Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Me vs. All

Date: April 18
Mileage: 56
April mileage: 252
Temperature upon departure: 45
On the iPod: "To the Sea" ~ Razorlight

After several days of snow, it felt warm out today. Downright balmy. I forgot about windchill. Now my throat hurts. But I wasn't the only one who emerged for spring's first, best gasp.

Ever have one of those days when you feel like you're in a constant competition for space? I wanted to put in a 50-mile day while it was nice out, but I didn't have any interest in venturing into the great beyond just yet (North Sterling Highway. Fresh snow banks. Scary.) So I did my favorite 17-mile loop - thrice - with an extra 5 miles to say hi to Geoff. The problem with this strategy was that I had to ride out and back the Homer Spit, thrice.

It seemed like everyone and their dog took to the Spit today: the walls of walkers; the precariously swerving mountain bikers; the streams of cars; and the road riders donning their shiny new lyrca, which had obviously been stuffed in a dark closet since Christmas. I had the most fun with the road riders. They were probably out for their first or second ride of the year, whereas I've been riding all winter, but they don't know that. All they see is this awkward cyclist clad in baggy fleece and riding a roadie with flat handlebars, fat touring tires and a Subway cup full of watered-down Diet Coke stuffed in the water bottle cage. I must have looked ridiculous out there, which is why it was that much more fun to blow by the roadies, humming some silly song as if the process was effortless (although, I have to admit, I was huffing a little myself. Some of those fair-weather roadies must have indoor trainers.)

The pedestrians, however, often presented an insurmountable obstacle. When the Spit is busy, it's impossible to win as a cyclist. If you take to the road, cars will honk and swerve and generally act more aggressive than usual because There Is A Bike Path Right There. But if you use the bike path, you will undoubtedly approach a group of oncoming walkers, as I did today, strolling side by side and taking up the entire trail with no intention of moving out of your way. Today I approached four women on a narrow part of the trail, after a long straightaway - which meant they had a chance to see me coming for several minutes. Within about 50 feet of them, it became apparent that my only options were to: hit the guardrail, drop off a 15-foot embankment, slam directly into one or more of them ... or stop. I practically had my foot down on the pavement before one woman reluctantly slipped a little ways to the left, giving me about a 10-inch space to wedge through. Grrrrr.

I guess I can deal with it if it means the weather stays above 45 and sunny. It's not likely, but still - I'll take the pedestrian clog over sleet any day.