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Friday, November 12, 2010

Riding the Night

When I first started training fir Bike MS 2009, just riding on the street freaked me out. I favored the bike-and-hike trails, and my idea of 'riding weather' was almost as narrowly defined as my 'safe' routes.

My comfort with traffic and how to evaluate its very real but variable and manageable hazards grew and my patience with the trail's blind corners (invariably concealing toddlers, kids first learning to roller blade, dogs stretching the leash across the path and other hazards to navigation) wore thin.

Riding at night was kind of a slippery slope that way, too. Get caught out after dark a few times and with some lights and planning it's no big deal to start in the dark.

Weather, though, that's another deal, or so I thought. Then again, I never imagined I'd continue a ride after an accident resulting in serious injury, but I pranced merrily across that line right about when I met the Poet Laureate of Lobster Land and Princess of the Overloaded Panniers, Corinna.

Broken fingers didn't keep me from riding, but a pinned one did. I've taken more narcotic painkillers in the past month than in my previous 41 years combined. But the thing is getting a little less sensitive, and Corinna outfitted my bike with an old headlight of hers and off we went into the city on a dark and rainy night.

It actually didn't rain while we were out, it had stopped. The streets were still wet enough for me to get a bit of road bidet to remind me why fenders are on the shopping list. I did hit a surprise pothole that really jolted the pinned finger, and for a few minutes I wondered if I'd made a mistake. That, and I can't get a glove on that hand and a nylon tent bag turns out to offer minimal protection from the wind.

But the bike/pedestrian bridge (secretly installed below highway lanes), crossing the river at I had no idea the city could be so beautiful. The quiet of downtown at night made it feel like we had the city to ourselves.

I think it was around 11:00 when we got back. I need to get some better gear (which does not mean spending a bunch of money as much as hitting the thrift stores looking for wool), fenders would be nice, etc. I don't know if I'll ever be as all-weather hardcore as Corinna, but I can feel myself drifting giddily into a world where the riding season has twelve months and not because you're in San Diego.

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