Archive for April, 2012

The ride and I

April 17, 2012

Some days I head to work early, walking out the door just a few minutes after the sun has risen. My quiet street is even more peaceful than usual, although I can hear the bustle of the cross street nearby. My bike, an Electra Amsterdam, glides down my driveway to the street, its bell rattling a gentle ping as we roll over the cracks in the street. We stop at the corner to watch the cars go by. I’m waiting for a space to join the procession.

I am among them, yet I am not one of them.

We glide past neighbor’s houses. Early morning rides give me a chance to ogle their yards, gawk at the progress of paint jobs, even to smile at lawn ornaments, like the adult dog and puppy planter on the front steps. Inside the neat houses, people are getting ready for the day. A few are already waiting for the bus, which runs sweep behind me. I could have loaded my bike onto the rack at the front of the bus and gotten to work that way. Sometimes I like the bus ride. I can read. Or I can just look out the window and let someone else do the work.

As I continue on my journey, the street merges with another, giving me a superpower moment. A yield sign for incoming traffic to my left means that  I can stick out my left arm, gesture with my hand and enter the lane. Yield to me, four-wheeler. Heh.

The houses here are quiet, too. Their occupants are mostly students, who keep a different schedule. Some mornings, ubiquitous red cups litter the front yards. Today, though, it’s clear the night was a quiet one.

Suddenly, we have a bike lane,  a space of our own on the two-lane road. The stoplight at the edge of downtown seems to catch me every time. Kitty-corner is the Bluebird Diner, where a few patrons are sitting at the tables and the waitress is moving around with her coffeepot in hand to top off their cups. My bike carries my own cup on the handlebars. On warm days people sit outside at café tables and I wonder, “who are these people, and why aren’t I one of them?”

Ride on, girl.

The bike lane turns into sharrows here, pointing us through the north edge of downtown, between groups of students walking across intersections to go to class, past cars rushing past to get to distant parking places so the drivers can take a bus and ride to work. We glide past them all, past the loading dock where the Coke and Pepsi trucks take turns waiting to unload their empty nutrition.

I shift gears as I start the downhill and swoop through a left turn. I am officially on campus. Many days, even the colder ones, I meander past the riverfront, enjoying in winter the sight of eagles catching their breakfast, in summer, the river as it purposefully moves past our town on its way to bigger things on the mighty Mississippi.

Right here, I have a choice. I can jump back on the road and work my way up the hill. Today, I keep out of the street by riding on the wide sidewalk and over the pedestrian overpass. The quiet morning turns up the volume as I ride past construction sites where men work with cement mixers, drills, cranes, all punctuated by the occasional “hey,” as a hard-hat yells to get another’s attention.

As I spin up the hill, the bus that picked up my neighbors labors past me. I let them have the road and turn into campus, sliding past the bus passengers and car drivers who are let off at the street to stride or labor up the hill to the their workplaces.

But we are still rolling on. I slide off the path and shush through the grass to the rack under the pines, right at the corner of my building.

Another day. Another dollar. Another ride.