Saturday, October 23, 2004

Ride report

Brain and I thought we'd get a ride in the morning, since the weather was looking *ok* - not great, but it looked like maybe it was done raining. Plan was to head west and do the Medicine Lake loop.

Traffic on Excelsior was extremely sparse, so instead of taking the greenway, I charged down Excelsior at max speed in the middle lane. Not a car in sight behind me - this was killer and totally reminded me of this video I've seen of these Boston guys riding in the "Big Dig" construction area, underground at night, every lane to themselves (it was still under construction, after all.) When I arrived at Brian's place, my hip flexors already felt shot, having not been on the PowerCranks for at least a month.

So Brian and I headed around the west side of Cedar Lake, there was a giant snapping turtle in the middle of the road. I did a quick u-turn to see if I could get it off the road. This is the third large snapper I've encountered while riding this season, and of course I didn't have my camera with me this time either.

Anyway, it's shell was probably 14-16 inches across, with slimy algae and probably a dozon large leeches on it. I estimate it weighed 25 lbs, maybe more. I picked it up by the rear edges of it's shell (the only way to stay clear of it's long neck and fierce jaws) and carried it the 50 ft to the lake. Everything was fine, until it got it's rear claws up near my fingers, and gave me a couple nasty scrapes on my left hand. Nothing major, but there was blood and judging by the nastiness on this critter's shell, I was a little worried about infection. So I rinsed off in the lake (although I suspect the water near shore isn't very sanitary, either.)

In retrospect, I think picking up by the tail may be a better strategy in the future, to avoid both the jaws and the claws.

Brian commented that this incident made him think of the song "My Ding-a-Ling" by Chuck Berry ...

"Once while swimming cross turtle creek
Man them snappers right at my feet
Sure was hard swimming cross that thing
with both hands holding my ding-a-ling"

With that incident behind us, we continued west out Cedar Lake Road. I commented that the weather was starting to look questionable, and about a minute later it started misting, then raining. Damn. So much for avoiding the weather. A few miles later, the rain picked up, and shoes started filling with water. A few miles later, and my shorts were soaked to. The rain came and went for the rest of the ride, and the shoes never did drain out, but the blood on my hand did rinse off. Somehow we managed to get lost at the north end of Medicine Lake, same as always. Will we ever get that route right?

Coming back south down Wirth parkway, we were pleased to see that the bridge at the north end of Cedar Lake is *finally* fully constructed, and we were able to ride through without dismounting and dealing with the walkway. Further down Cedar Lake, we passed a guy riding one of these 2-cycle, gas powered scooters. He was a tall dude, riding this scooter bolt-upright, staring straight ahead with the engine whining and totally wound out. What a joker. We were moving at a pretty good clip, quickly passing him, and as we did I glanced back at him, made eye contact, and yelled "Nice scooter!" I didn't say it maliciously (but it could have come across that way, since I yelled loudly to make sure I was heard over his engine). His reaction was as if, well, as if he snapped. He went from straight-faced to snarling in 0.00001 second as he responded with a big "Fuck you!" Well, this was so comical that Brian and I totally lost it. We continued on past, quickly leaving him behind, but we were out-of-control laughing. Priceless. I suspect he must have taken flak for that scooter before to respond like that!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Enough with the ribbons, people.

OK, I just constructed an eloquent rant about how I hate all the ribbons people are putting on there cars nowadays (yellow ribbons, flag ribbons, pick breast cancer ribbons, etc) but then my browser crashed before I had a chance to post it.

I'm not going to try to rewrite it, but here's the synopsis: Enough with the ribbons, people. If you want to say something, get a bumper sticker, slap it on your bumper, below eye level (where it belongs), and be done with it. That's it. Simple. Retro. Done.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Honk Honk

So I've been thinking, every car really needs to have two different sounding horns. The first would be a softer, very friendly "honk honk". This would be used when you simply want to acknowledge someone, get someones attention in a friendly way, let a biker know there's a car behind them, etc.

The second would be much louder, aggressive, "HOONNKK HOONNKK" or "WWWAAAHHH WWWAAAHHH". This would be when you REALLY need to get someone's attention, like when you've got an 18-wheeler drifting into your lane, or you almost get t-boned by someone running a red light, or when you just need to audibly flip someone the bird.

On a related note, a coworker proposed that cars should not have an unlimited number of honks available - they should have a limited-life battery or something, so people would conserve their honks, instead of being so honk-happy.

I countered that drivers should have to pay-per-honk. When you're out of honks, you'd have to swipe your credit card to buy more. The money could go to the highway fund or something. Just a thought.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

So Cold

I've been looking forward to tonight's Saturday Night Ride, especially since I missed last weeks ride and haven't been doing much except taking it easy on my 'nads lately. Unfortunately, it was very cold today (at least in contrast to the warm weather we're all currently acclimated to.) I did my best to dress for the weather, but my SPD shoes are a little snug, allowing for only one pair of wool socks, and even then my feet felt compressed. Figured it wouldn't be a big deal, since *surely* we wouldn't be heading out into the woods on a night like this. WRONG.

While some were in favor of doing a pub crawl, others were low on cash and couldn't swing it - they lobbied for a campfire (cheap fun) so off we went, heading south through campus and south Minneapolis. Stopped along the way to pick up Jeremy's brother Philip (who rides a very sweet Miyata he build up himself - a pimp ride indeed.) We road over Ford Parkway, then through St Cates and on to Macalaster for a beer break somewhere back by the track. Pretty quiet except for the periodic whooshing of a large windmill nearby. Patrick related his experience tangling with a car of punks some time ago - they starting throwing full, open beers at him out their car window, he retaliated by putting his Ulock through their rear window, he ends up spending three days in a burn unit for road rash after getting dragged under their car for like 100ft.

Anyway, by the time the beer break was over, I was freezing my ass off. Low body fat can in fact be a curse, at least when it comes to SCUBA diving and cold weather cycling. Philip had to work early, so when the others headed further into St Paul to build a campfire somewhere, he and I headed back to Mpls via Marshall St. This was good, because I hadn't had a chance to talk to Philip, and he seems to be an interesting guy. Philip works as a cook/chef at Three Fish. Turns out he and I share a disdain for the more aggressive, troublemaking attitude of some of the other riders. Glad to know I'm not the only one who thinks tipping over trash cans and running red lights isn't exactly exemplary behavior. But I'm feeling like I'm new to the group so I'm not rocking the boat yet.