22 March 2011

Sunday ride, no commute

Sunday was a super day. First, it was the last day of Winter, hurray! Second, my neighbors Frank and Kay were hosting a game day in the afternoon, meaning fun and good times with several regulars. And third, the weather was good for a spin around the bikeways.

So I pumped up the tires on my Lotus fixed-gear, because I believed—or rather, hoped—that the bikeways were sufficiently cleared of debris to offer no problems to its smaller and thinner tires. I left the house at about 11:45 and headed through the neighborhood, across Salem, down Grafton, across the Monument Avenue Bridge, and down the ramp to the Great Miami Bikeway. So far, nothing differing from my commute route.

During this warm-up, I had wondered, Hmm. Should I go to the gym? No, there's not enough time for even a two set workout. So I guess I'll head south, though the way may be messy, as high as the river has been. So my direction was set as I cleared the ramp.

Well below street level, inside the shelter of the high retaining wall between street level and the river bank, I could feel ripples and eddies of wind. The pylons and plinths supporting the freeway overpasses prevented any immediate perception of wind speed and direction. Down on this level, areas of dust-mud and debris indicated that my choice of the Lotus was questionable—I would have to keep a close watch to avoid occasional trash on the way. Further south along the bikeway, some new construction access had been cleared recently, leaving a long 50 feet of navigation through stones.

As the bikeway lifted just north of Stewart Street, the crosswinds were light but noticeable, and became more evident as the path opened out at the approach to Carillon Park. The bikeway curves toward the west, and the wind gradully addressed my face. Good thing I'm taking this on the way out. My return should be just a bit easier, if the winds don't shift.

Beyond Carillon Park, the bikeway drops again near river level and turns south along a large silt meadow. A copse of river birches standing between the meadow and the river still held nests of debris from the floods, as high as seven feet above the bikeway. But the way was clear, and freshly sawn flotsam wood was evidence of hard work by the Five Rivers Metroparks crews over the past week.

At the turn from River Road, two dozen cars were parked along the road, and they indicated that the University of Dayton crews were doing their river work today—indeed, Spring has come. The bikeway passes close by their sheds, and two teams carried their sculls across the way, down to their dock. Others were already rowing, and still another team or two had yet to ready their craft for portage to the dock.

A half mile further south, I turned to check traffic near the public boat dock and I noticed another cyclist about a hundred feet behind me. I crossed the intersection and picked up speed for the cruise along the levee toward West Carrollton, expecting a hello and a bit of conversation. But the cyclist never cleared my shoulder, and instead took advantage of my slipstream. I kept my pace until, close to my turnaround, I needed to clear my sinuses. I motioned to him to pass me, emptied out twice—like a farmer on his tractor, and then pulled off into the shelter area. 9.28 miles was my halfway point, and a chance to ride easily and speedily back home.

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