Sometimes weird things happen on the bike path. It’s one of the reasons I love it. Last week, in one day, I saw a man playing a harmonica while riding his bike, another man who was painting in the park near the wildflowers (on the way back, with the wind blowing in a different direction, I noticed I could smell him before I could see him), bagpipers practicing near the rose garden, and this man that I continually see on the bike path who I recognize from 45 minutes spent under a bridge together last summer in a torrential downpour. (Also, they say that cycling is a male-dominated activity; I’m keeping a tally, but it seems to be true).
Other highlights I’ve seen and/or see regularly:
– A man on a bike with a huge speaker sitting on the bike rack above his rear wheel. He was blasting “Love Shack” by the B-52s as he rode along. It was AWESOME for about the first five minutes. Then I had to speed up in order to preserve my sanity!
– An older couple on a tandem bike. The man is always in front looking kind of surly, but the woman – on the rear seat – always gives me a big smile and nod when we pass each other.
– A very serious cyclist (judging by his gear, his speed, and his bike) who was wearing a Cookie Monster jersey. (Where does one procure these items??)
– Just yesterday I was coming up behind three pedestrians, and I called out “On your left!,” as I always do, and when I passed, one of the women says, “That was so nice! Thank you.” Every now and then pedestrians and cyclists get along, and it creates a magical moment!
And then, sometimes there are the misadventures.
Like last week, when my bike chain popped off.
Sometimes one rides a 1977 road bike. And sometimes this is the result. It happens. A very nice fellow cyclist actually stopped to make sure I was okay.
But my favorite (aka most despised) misadventure involves a less-than-magical moment with a pedestrian. See, the thing is, the bike path is a multi-use path. So, there’s always a combo of cyclists, walkers, runners, people with dogs and/or children (sometimes on leashes, sometimes not – the dogs and the children), and roller bladers. What often eludes people is that the path works like a road. You stay on the right side unless you need to pass, in which case you offer a signal (a call, a bell, whatevs) so that people know you’re moving into the left lane to pass.
This misadventure happened on a most perfect day for cycling. It also happened to be a perfect day for running, walking, roller blading, and having children and/or dogs on leashes. It was crowded. I come up behind three people walking, and they had spread themselves out across the entire path. I call out, “On your left!” No response. I get a little closer. Call out again. No response. I’m getting pretty f-ing close, so I call out, “Hey! Passing on your left!!!” It is upon this cry that the woman walking in the left (aka PASSING) lane decides to stop ABRUPTLY *right* in front of me. My choices were quickly narrowed down to:
A) hit her (tempting, but I’m a Quaker and that would be violent)
B) stop short and risk going over my handle bars (I appreciate the offer, but no thank you)
C) slow down as much as possible and then procede to hurl body and bike into the grass.
I opted for c. As I hurl my body and bike into the grass, the woman moves over into the other lane (NOT getting off the bike path) to continue tying her shoe. All of the walkers have headphones on. The man apologizes to me and asks if I’m okay. The woman who made me fall wouldn’t look at me. I get up and say “Yeah, I’m okay. Thanks. But, it’s best to get off the path completely to tie a shoe because sometimes we come up pretty fast.” Then, the other woman (*not* the show tier) goes, “God! She’s new! This is her first time!”
Her first time what?! WALKING?! I mean, isn’t it like riding a bike? Can you forget how?? But out loud I said, “Okay. Well. Just an fyi.” And rode away.
Oh, the bike path. 95% of the time it – and the people on i t- are wonderful. 5% of the time, it’s frustrating. But it’s never the same.