Friday, October 30, 2015

Trick Or Treat

I don't know about you, but I've always preferred the trick part. I find treats boring and predictable, plus I hear they give you cavities and huge dental bills. No, the trick is where I thrive, but this year Halloween is serving me a trick I'm not enjoying much. This post is a little more personal than my previous ones but bear with me.

Halloween is bittersweet for me as it makes me miss my ex-boyfriend with an intensity that's unlike me. I usually don't get gooey and - feelings - yuck! I prefer not to have them much. Mostly joking about this but I'm not one for pining. But I am missing my ex, and for the first time I am aware of the finality of never seeing him again. Ever.

What triggered the trip down memory lane was stumbling across pictures of him a few days ago as I was looking for something else. This ex is not my first, but he's probably my last. The reason this - pining - is taking me by surprise is that never once have I ever pined over anyone in the past, but this guy was something else and Halloween was a special time for us.

Do I feel bad for feeling this while I have a loving husband? Not really. Does the lack of guilt make me a bad person? Doubt it. Would I rekindle anything with this ex should our paths cross again - however unlikely? No.

But here I am, pining for my ex and looking at the pictures of us. YUCK! Enough pining for today I think.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Confessions Of A Pluviophile

Definition of Pluviophile:
a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days.

I was researching how to properly maintain a bike when it's raining when all I came across were writings on "how to survive the rain", and how biking in the rain is just plain miserable. I disagree.

I love rain. I've always loved walking in it, the heavier the rain, the better. I love how rain smells and how other sounds get muted when it's pouring down. What I don't like is getting wet, but that's never been an issue when walking. A pair of proper rain boots and a good, long raincoat take care of that.

Cycling in the rain is different but I think I've managed to remedy what was lacking in the beginning. I have a good rain jacket, gaiters, and goretex hiking shoes seem to do the trick.

If I had to choose between sun and rain, I would definitely choose rain. Rain is cozy, romantic, and sparks my imagination like clear weather cannot. Rain reminds me of the ocean - a vessel that can take you anywhere in the world! Rain cleans everything, every surface, so even old and dirty can get a new start.

It's going to rain on my way home and I can't wait.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Lonesome Cowboy

I like riding alone. The more I ride my bike, the more I realize I prefer riding alone. I don't consider it a safety issue to be riding alone - as a female, and frankly haven't even given it a thought until hubby was asked if he felt comfortable with me riding alone. I mean, why wouldn't I be safe? And what does being a woman have to do with safety when riding my bike?

I probably would be a little safer should I encounter a bear or an otter if I had a riding partner, but only if said partner is a slower rider than me and looks like bear snack.

The question my husband was asked did spur some googling and pondering on my part. After all, I wouldn't be me if I didn't look into it. I couldn't find a single hit on attacks on lonesome female bicyclists, though. There were plenty of hits on bicyclists being assaulted by drivers, but nothing that would indicate that I'm particularly endangered as a lone female cyclist. Lonesome female joggers seem more at risk. Speed might be a factor here.

Of course there are moments I feel more vulnerable when I'm biking alone, but they are few and far in between. The bats hanging under that bridge freaked me out, but that was more because they startled me and not because I was in any real danger. The coyote scared me a bit as well. But never once have I felt scared or threatened by fellow humans.

I find darkness, noises, and bats far more scary than anything else. Yes, I'm scared of the dark. It's an irrational fear but a fear nonetheless. I think my fear of darkness stems from watching horror movies I shouldn't have. But for someone who gets nightmares from merely reading the back of a movie cover (yes, back in the days we had plastic covers for DVDs), I've seen far too many of the genre: Hellraiser, Nightmare on Elm Street, IT, Misery, Poltergeist, and many, many more. In my defense, the sequel of NOES I watched was called "The Final Nightmare" - turns out that was a lie. A big, fat lie. Spoiler alert: NOT the final nightmare.

Clowns from hell aside, after pondering this issue of safety - should I be more concerned about safety when I ride alone? I notice that question alone is enough to make my heckles rise. I get annoyed. I'm no a feminist per se. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about women's rights and that's all I'm going to say about that. I just don't get up on barricades or go on marches and wave flags or banners and such. Perhaps that makes me a lazy feminist. Anywho, I don't want to consider safety because I am a woman riding alone.

However, I do realize that there are definite disadvantages to riding alone as a person (non-gender specific), but I believe most of the perils can be avoided if one is properly prepared. I suppose common sense is the most valuable tool, in addition to carrying physical tools for fixing flats or other bike parts, spare inner tubes, and a cell phone. Common sense will hopefully prevent me from taking unnecessary risks such as riding in bear infested areas or go dancing with wolves. And I don't have to go riding in areas where I know it just isn't safe at certain times. Not that there are many of those, if any, here in the Pacific Northwest. I think the people that scare me the most up here are hipsters, granola addicted Birkenstocks, and the Lexus Mafia but these people don't generally bike.

When I eventually go riding across America, I might bring a gun - but that's more for animal use than people.

To conclude, I will continue to ride alone because I'm a lonesome cowboy at heart.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Dark Commute, Plumbing Issues, And A Hit And Almost Run

This morning's commute was uneventful and dark. I notice a huge difference in daylight just from last week. I ride in darkness pretty much the entire way now. Between riding in dusk and dark, I prefer the latter because it makes me more visible. I've ditched my beloved vest because it didn't add anything now that I have disco lights on my bike making me visible from outer space. I'll probably wear it if I ever go jogging.

Not very likely though... All though, I have considered the act of completely obliterating the ligaments in my knees by bouncing on a hard surface for hours on end. I chalk that up to temporary insanity but never say never. If it's one thing I've learned so far in life is that there's no such thing as an absolute. Using words like "never" and "always" will most likely be followed by lies.

Having my commute start out while it's still dark out allows me to witness some pretty spectacular sunrises, like the one today.

As I arrived at Whole Foods, the sun lit up the surrounding buildings, making them sparkle like diamonds. This picture doesn't do it justice at all. Paired with a mediocre phone and my lacking skills in the area, the picture just serves as a general idea of the beauty.

For a while now, we've had this issue at our office. Clogged toilets. The building management told us it was because we use two-ply paper, but that just sounded ridiculous. A couple of days ago we discovered why. The first time the plumber had to be called, he just snaked the pipes and couldn't really say why it had clogged. Then it happened again.

The second time the plumber had to be called he discovered why our toilets kept clogging: Masses of feminine products were stuck in the drain. Not your average tampon, but pads. Loads of pads. Why on earth anyone would flush a sanitary pad down the toilet is beyond me. Turns out the clogging wasn't caused by our indulgence in two-ply paper but by a patient who spends 20+ minutes in the bathroom - and I was going to write, doing lord knows what - but now I know what she's doing: Apparently stuffing the toilets with sanitary pads.

Change of subject

I had a thought last night that I put into action this morning. I brought the old badge with me. It no longer carries any real power, but I might be able to chuck it at someone if the situation calls for it. While I wouldn't want that life, it feels like having an old friend back and it makes me feel safer.

On the topic of feeling safer; I went out for a walk during lunch today with coworkers when we spotted a woman sitting on the sidewalk with a man standing over her. There were two cars parked nearby and at first I thought she'd had an episode in one of the cars and that the man was helping her. Turns out the guy had run over her with his car.

To say that he wasn't pleased to see us would be the understatement of the year, as he had almost convinced the woman that it was her fault that he hit her - while she was walking on the sidewalk. What a charming guy. The woman had just moved to this country and didn't know the laws, nor did she speak English well, so she was an easy victim for his con. I thought, "hell no!" and asked to see his driver's license. He took out his wallet and I snapped a picture of it. I also took a picture of his car.

While my coworkers tended to the woman, I asked him what had happened. He said, "well, she's probably going to tell you that I had stopped to let her cross on the sidewalk in front of me, but I hadn't." Eh, excuse me? How is it her fault that you ran her over on the sidewalk? His explanation made it seem worse not better. Not yielding for pedestrians on sidewalks is never their fault. No matter what. Ok, if they are riding recumbents - maybe.

Then the guy proceeded to get into his car to drive off. Not caring how the pedestrian was doing. Then my coworker asked me if I got his insurance info, which I hadn't. I motioned for him that I needed to ask him a question and he rolled down his window. When I asked him for proof of insurance, he told me to call him. Call him by dialing the phone number he hadn't given us? I said, "ok, I guess I'll just call the police then." Funny how those words made the insurance card magically appear. Then he took off. I wasn't about to prevent him from leaving given his track record when it comes to pedestrians, so off he went. My coworkers and I ended up taking the woman to the ER, called the police, and then I left.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Coyote Ugly And Murder On The Trail

I got my long ride in this weekend - and it was glorious! I did a little swaperoo and did the long ride Saturday instead of the usual Sunday, which felt good so I think I'll do that from now on as it allows me a day of slow riding before I start work on Monday. This was my ride:

I started my ride around 7:30 am. The route wasn't set in stone as I figured I would see how long it would take me once I got to Puyallup. I had plans for later in the afternoon and needed to be back home by 4 at the latest.

It was still foggy but the air was nice and crisp, allowing for perfect biking conditions. Above is the view from Renton. My new bike was still in the shop so I rode my old bike, which was another reason why I hadn't decided for sure how far this ride was going to be.

I was surprised when I encountered the Interurban Trail once I had passed Renton - which was every bit as rifle-in-the-back-of-the-truck as I'd imagined. The pot smoke was hanging heavy over south Renton as well. But the trail - oh, it was magnificent! I didn't know it was there but now that I've found it, I think it'll be a regular.

The Interurban Trail is an 18.1-mile trail that runs nearly straight and flat for 14.8 miles from its beginning in the north near Fort Dent Park. The route connects the towns of Tukwila, Kent, Auburn, Algona, and Pacific. The trail was a delight. Well, it was, until I encountered my first coyote. At first I thought it was a dog so I looked to see if I could spot its owner. As I got closer I realized it wasn't a dog. It was the size of a german shepherd but strange looking. I guess I was about 30 feet away from it when it became clear that A) it was a coyote, and B) that coyote didn't intend to move out of the path. Being that I've never encountered a coyote before in my life, I had no idea what the correct behavior was. But as I stood there looking at the coyote, and the coyote was looking back at me - kind of like an old west stand-off, I remembered the advice for the bear encounters:

Not the stay calm part, but of all things, I decided to say "booo!". Nothing. The coyote just kept standing there looking at me. Now I figure I wouldn't make much of a snack, but one can never know for sure so I started planning my escape. Where are those road runners when one needs them?

Then all of a sudden, the coyote sauntered slowly into the ditch, while casting the occasional glance back at me just to let me know that it wasn't moving on account of being scared of me but because it chose to.

With the coyote off the trail, I still wasn't convinced that it wasn't lurking at me from the ditch, just waiting to pounce me as I biked past so just to make sure I biked as far as I could on the opposite side of the trail from where the coyote disappeared. As I biked past, I glanced down in the ditch and there it was - just standing there, looking up at me. At least it wasn't a bear.

A little further down the trail, I spotted a make shift memorial by the trail. Turns out a man was stabbed to death on the trail.

His name was Mike, but there were other posters asking if one knew who he was. If you know who Mike was, please contact Auburn Police at 253-931-3030.

This ride was getting weirder and weirder, and it didn't help that I was biking close to the Green River Trail.

At least that guy is behind bars.

The trail goes along the trail tracks but also under the power lines. I was thinking I might get super powers from it, like super human speed akin to The Flash. No such luck. I only had to wait for a passing train once though.

You can't see it from this picture, but if you're in the marked for an aluminum sided building, the one just across the track is for sale.

The bridges where Interurban intersects with Green River
This Saturday's ride was the friendliest ride I've done. Everyone was all smiles and hellos. This one guy I passed by Beacon Hill smiled so much I was afraid his ears were going to fall off! But it was all good, and it made for a pleasant ride.

The ride took me a little over eight hours so I was back in time to see Zombies in downtown Issaquah. The zombies were the least committed ones I've seen so far. Some of them were even running - and no self-respecting zombies run. Unless you're in World War Z, but that's just silly.

Sunday I rode around Lake Sammamish with hubby. The weather was unseasonably warm. I had put on layers of clothing since Saturday's bike ride was so cold, but had to shed these pretty quickly. It was also windy, making it feel like I was riding inside of a blow dryer. This time we didn't stop for breakfast at Whole Foods, which wasn't a great idea on the account of hubby being completely wiped after. Next weeked, we will make our usual stop.

This weekend's grand total: 140 miles give or take.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Grinder And Fog Horns

Three things took place on my ride this morning; one annoying, one somewhat scary (that had nothing to do with cars), and one nice thing.

The annoying thing is my bike has started making grinding noises and because of that I now have 6 gears I can't use. It's the damn chain and the brake pads. Not to worry though, I am taking it in today to get it tuned.

The scary thing was this:

Fog! For once it's not my lacking skills as a photographer that's making the picture blurry, but mother nature. And the fog got worse - of course at the steepest hill. Couldn't see shit so I had to bike snail slow and of course I had a car right behind me that couldn't pass because of the turns and the fog so I had a car on my tail all the way down the hill. Fun times.

Now the nice thing. One of my fellow commuters acknowledged my existence this morning. The numbers of commuters has dwindled down to three now that the temperatures have dropped. There used to be double digit numbers but now it's just us three. Perhaps I'll have t-shirts made that says "The Three Biking Musketeers" or "One For All And All For One" on them. Or not.

For weeks we have pretty much ignored each other - after I initially greeted them and was ignored. Perhaps they are commuter snobs - you know, the kind who bikes through rain and snow - like me, and scoffs at other fair-weathered bikers. I guess I've been accepted into their club now and have been deemed worthy of "hellos" in the morning. Whatever reason, I'll take it. Pathetic as it may seem, that "hello" warmed me on the chilly ride in.

Fog horns. Again nice transition. You're welcome. My 750 lumen light didn't do shit in the fog soup so I don't know what I should do. Not that fog horns would help at all with vision, but it would scare off vampires that are lurking in the dark. Yes, those are real thoughts rattling around in my head when I'm biking in the dark. Vampires or kidnappers that could pounce me from the side of the road - as I'm biking past 20+ miles per hour downhill. Not very realistic, but still, it could happen. Well, at least it keeps my thoughts away from cars.

If you must, then at least look like this...

instead of this
As for this weekend's rides, I am doing the usual lap around Lake Sammamish with hubby for sure. Still haven't decided on the longer ride. Probably going to be south - or I might just bike around Lake Washington twice, just because I'm feeling a bit laze in the imagination department. We shall see.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Why Two Strokes Are Better Than Four

(That's what she said...)

I was contemplating tandems. Not for long, but I did. See, the thing is that hubby and I don't do a whole lot together. We do and we don't, if that makes any sense. I want us to do things together, hence the tandem.

During my research I came across this article about how tandem biking changed this couple's marriage. Below is an excerpt from it:

[...]As I gazed at the view, I felt a surge of pride—and realized that I couldn’t have done it if I hadn’t taken a backseat and surrendered control. By letting Dan steer and occasionally pull for me, I’d built up my own strength until I could make it up that mountain. On my own, I never would have known I had it in me. I had always confused dependence with weakness. But leaning on my husband when I needed to and admitting I couldn’t do everything myself made me stronger. Thanks to the tandem, I get it: We’re working the same chain, each powerful on our own, but even more powerful together.[...]

There was only so much I could do to prevent myself from barfing when I read this. The only thing missing from this description is how they tenderly make sweet, sweet love in between all this leaning and stroking. And as if bicycling doesn't have enough specialized lingo, tandem biking has more:

The Stoker A.K.A - Tailgunner, Navigator, Rear Admiral or R.A.
The Captain A.K.A - Steersman, Pilot

I'll tell you one thing, there will be no rear admirals in my bedroom. While pretty adventurous in the boudoir, I'm no fan of rear admirals, captains, or lieutenants - whatever the rank, back door entrance isn't the preferred method.

"Who's your daddy? I mean, Rear Admiral." 
Who's the Captain, now?
This would be more like how I imagine tandem biking would end for hubby and me. Can't say for sure who would end up in the casket, but most likely hubby.

But just as I thought tandem biking couldn't possibly be more ridiculous, I find this:

On my honor I will swear, against severe penalties
To do my duty to keep my Stoker safe;
To listen to and obey the Stoker at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and to keep the bike upright.

This is something called The Captain's Oath, and it seems tandem biking has things in common with being a scout as the Captain's motto is "Be Prepared". Could this sound any more pompous? It's one thing to take something seriously, another to blow it so completely out of proportions. While I take biking seriously and I believe in safety - both for myself and others, I am no fan of stroking egos or rear admirals. But biking must have room for fun and being able to make light of oneself, which is why you'll never see me biking along like a spandex encased caterpillar. The above article doesn't subscribe to the concept of fun.

But the thing about people who take themselves too seriously and have over inflated egos is that they unwittingly become ridiculous so when the article then goes on to explain about "butt breaks", it takes a hilarious turn.

Off the saddle riding is important to preserve the morale of the Stoker, as tandem riding generally does not allow for as many “butt breaks” as single bike riding. Either the ES or the captain may call out “butt break”[...]

Then I found this article written by a person who - believe it or not - thinks tandems are fun. At first I thought I'd found a kindred spirit, albeit slightly meaner than myself, but no. However, you wouldn't think so after reading this intro:

I recently rode the 115-mile El Tour de Tucson bike race on the back of a tandem bike. Let me start by saying tandems suck. A person who shows up to a mass-start race on a tandem bike either has a buddy who is blind, or is too much of a wuss to race on a single bike. In other words, if you’re racing on a tandem and you’re not blind or piloting a blind cyclist you’re a wuss. And if you’re married to the person on the tandem with you you’re a double wuss.

He then goes on to calling the stoker seat the "bitch seat". Hahaha ha! Guess who wouldn't be caught dead in one (unless I have no choice being dead and all).

Seriously though, I think tandem biking would ruin my love of biking. I like the solitude, I like riding at my own pace, and stopping when I want - meaning not at all. And since hubby and I have totally different ideas about biking and what we enjoy about it, we'd both end up hating biking if we rode together like conjoined twins.

So even if I get the math behind tandems, I still believe with all my heart and sanity that two strokes are better than four.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

ICD-10 Codes And A Very Annoying Coworker

My mama always told me not to post anything when angry, which is why I waited until now. Actually, my mother never told me any such thing. What she was saying had more to do with beds and anger. Not the fun kind but the sensible kind.

I'm annoyed today. Perhaps it has to do with my vanishing eye, perhaps I'm getting a cold, perhaps it's just the season. But maybe I'm annoyed because it's Back To The Future Day today and my charming and patient self traveled back to 1955 or 1985. Or simply because I only possess a certain amount of patience and what I currently have I spend on patients. Patience for patients - now there's a slogan.

I have a coworker who is mostly ok but probably shouldn't work in healthcare. The thing about working with people - sick people specifically, is that it takes a lot of patience and empathy - and if you can't muster up empathy, try to be compassionate. Sick people don't care what your day is like. They are generally scared, and as I very well know fear can quickly turn into anger. I can't tell you too much about where I work, but I can tell you it has to do with patient care. My point is, if you haven't got a compassionate bone in your body, you probably shouldn't work with patients. It doesn't do you any good nor the poor patients who have to interact with you.

I'm not saying it's easy. There are days I have to fake it till I make it, but I will never let a patient suffer for my crappy day or for my own personal reasons. Even if you're the biggest asshole in the world, I will - at the very least - be polite to you, because most often it turns out that the reason you came across as rude and demanding was that you were feeling like crap or you were scared out of your mind.

In addition to lacking compassion, this person will put her nose in my business constantly. As soon as I am done talking with a patient, she will ask me what they wanted. I'm thinking, "bitch, if you only did your job, you wouldn't have to fear every phone call". See, 90% of the calls are about her not doing what she promised she'd do. In an atypical passive aggressive way for me, I will usually pretend I didn't hear her, other times I will give her the shortest answer possible.

ICD-10 codes. Where do I begin. Oh, joy. The whole ICD-10 circus was postponed numerous times and I suppose I was hoping it would be postponed one more time - but no. For those of you who haven't got the foggiest what I'm babbling about, I'm talking about diagnosis codes we use in healthcare. In order not to put the cart before the horse, here's a link to Wiki that explains what ICD codes are. If you click it, you'll learn more than you'd every want to learn about diagnoses codes.

Now that I've written this, I'm no longer annoyed. See, writing about it prevented me from getting an ulcer or choking someone out.

The Avenging Spider And Other Tall Tales

Yesterday I woke up with this:

As if my eyes aren't small enough to begin with
Yeah, awesome. The same morning I encountered a spider as big as a house in our living room. I didn't want to touch it so I had hubby dispose of it. Now I figure it was the same spider that bit me so it definitely had it coming - but not before it took a bite out of my face.

I feel a little better today but just to be safe I wore glasses or goggles or whatever you call it on my ride in this morning - just in case that spider has friends.

When I checked the weather, like I do every day, I saw something new. Never seen this symbol before - and it wasn't lying.

There was fog everywhere.

The fog carried with it bone chilling cold, the kind that sits in ones bones for hours after having been exposed to it. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed biking in. Since there's hardly any snow here in the Pacific Northwest, fog is the closest thing to it for me, making fog remind me of Christmas.

Following some great advice I got from the Hungry Hippo post, I had 20+ grams of protein.

Breakfast of champions
Now my eye is starting to hurt again - and it itches like a sonofa.

The Tale Of The Lonesome And Abandoned Bike

I've been feeling bad for my old bicycle ever since it was replaced with my new Cannondale. There was nothing very wrong with the old bike - except for the one thing that couldn't be fixed: size. The bike was just too small. The frame was too small and the handlebars were too wide. The fact that the old Raleigh is a man's bike explains the handlebars, so I figure the bike was made for a short guy with wide shoulders.

It wasn't this bad, but...
Look, I know bicycles don't have feelings but I kinda think they do. I've been imagining the old Raleigh crying in the corner of the garage where it spends most of its time these days. Of course it doesn't help that the bike is actually blue.

I contemplated fixing the bike by replacing the stem with a longer one and the handlebars with shorter ones, but that would cost me almost $500 - money I could put towards a new bike instead. And there's just something alluring about new and shiny, so I wasn't exactly a hard sell when it came to making the decision to go new instead of old.

Hubby took a spin on it a couple of weekends ago, but he's much taller than me so it was more of an exercise in experiencing a road bike than it was a permanent solution to my old bike's loneliness. I don't know what to do with the old Raleigh and I fear I one day soon will walk into the garage and find it missing because it ran away.

To be continued...

Since it's Wednesday, I have started to plan my weekend ride. Since commuting fills my need for close encounters with cars, I figure I'll bike somewhere more tranquil. Lake Washington is nice but it's kinda short and biking around it more than once just makes me dizzy and also bored.

I don't feel like doing the Centennial Trail two weekends in a row so that's out as well.

Upon considering the realistic options (i. e. not biking to Portland, however tempting that may seem), I've landed on JBLM.

That's about 50 miles each way. It is south so the rifle in the back of the truck factor might be higher but I'll take my chances.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Par For The Course

Something happened on my commute home yesterday that made me come to an important realization. Asshats happen. That being on two wheels or four - or three for that matter. Recumbents can be asshats too, not to mention toddlers with their snotty noses and dirty hands grabbing the handlebars on their pimped out tricycles...

What happened was funny - even in the midst of an intense moment. I was biking along 140th which is pretty much a straight shot with a clear line of sight for about a mile. I spotted a pedestrian who was attempting to cross at a crosswalk up ahead but noticed that none of the cars were stopping. Upon approaching her, I slowed down and motioned to the car behind me that they ought to stop - which they didn't.

30 feet ahead there's a traffic light where we both had to stop for a red light. Since I was standing right next to the car in question I figured what the hell, looked over and motioned for the driver to roll down his window. I didn't think he would but he did with the introduction phrase, "what do you want?" I asked if he'd seen the pedestrian who was trying to cross back there. The driver then yelled, while pointing his finger at me, "IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT!" I was like, say whaaaat? Or that was what I was thinking. Is he mentally unstable? Should I make a run for it? Then he went on to yelling "IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT FOR STICKING OUT YOUR HAND! IT'S YOU! YOU ARE TO BLAME!" All the while he kept pointing his finger at me to make his point.

I couldn't respond because my jaw was on the ground.

It's all your fault!

Yes, it probably should have been a scary moment, but it was just all too much so it turned around and I almost started laughing out loud, then thought better of it because it could trigger real crazy. All righty then, I thought to myself. The next thing that happened was that the driver flipped me off as the lights turned green, I reached for my cellphone to snap his photo (in case I would end up dead). My reaching into my pocket made him nervous, his eyes darted, making him almost miss the green light. He didn't peel off, but instead hesitantly drove off.

Weird. Very weird. I didn't get a picture, but I did get his license plate. So consider yourself warned should you encounter a green Toyota RAV4 with the license plate ACN 6476. Do not engage. Ticking bomb and all that.

Anywho, asshats are everywhere, it's par for the course. It's not like I haven't been in many near accidents while driving my car. The only difference is I feel a little more protected when in my car - being surrounded by metal and airbags and all that. On my bicycle I don't have an airbag.

That made me think of this:

Wouldn't this be awesome? I think it would be perfect. An impact triggered jacket that turns into an airbag in the shape of a ball. Maybe I can get a kickstarter for this?

I'm also thinking that bicycling has phases (yes, random. You're welcome).

  1. Ignorance
    • When one first starts out biking and is more concerned with oxygen deprivation and aching muscles to care about anything else, much less cars.
  2. Triumph
    • When one is starting to get into shape and one can actually bike up the hills instead of walking the bike, making a person fly high on their amazing achievements. When one is high, nothing else seem to matter - i.e. cars.
  3. Fear
    • When biking has become easy and the highs of triumph start to wear off and one starts taking notice of ones surroundings - like how pretty the sunrise is, how stunning the fall colors are, and - HOLY SHIT, those cars are going crazy fast!
  4. Calm
    • When one realizes that there's only so much one can do. No amount of blinkers or lights or reflector vests in the world can prevent an accident by a driver who isn't paying attention - even for just a tiny second.
  5. Alert and Chill
    • When cat-like reflexes and full knowledge of how ones bike handles can prevent accidents, not all, but most.
I'm in between 3 and 4 right now. I think 5 will take years to achieve. In the meantime I'll work on that inflatable jacket.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Girl, Two Rides, And One Mishap

I had one and a half great ride this weekend.

Hubby wasn't feeling well so instead of doing our ride around the little lake (Lake Sammamish) on Saturday, I rode around the big lake (Lake Washington). The weather was forecast to be 80% chance of rain, but it turned out to be a glorious day - perfect for riding a bike, jogging (as if...), or frolicking in the meadows.

When doing the Lake Washington Loop, one has to bike on Rainier Ave for a bit, which has never been fun. The bike lane is narrow and sits between parked cars on the right and fast traffic on the left. Imagine my surprise when I encountered a newly painted bike lane as wide as a bus! Not only was the bike lane wide, but it was flanked by safety zones on both sides, making the combined bike lane as wide as the car lane. It was awesome! Thank you, City of Renton.

Child labor?

Cool sign at the Renton Airfield

Lake Washington seen from the south
The entire loop from Issaquah turned out to be around 65 miles, which I did in 4 hours and 20 minutes. A new personal best - and I wasn't even trying to bike fast. I just let my legs do their thing in a speed that felt good and not exhausting, knowing that I would have to bike up Lakemont at the end of my ride. So all in all, a fantastic day of riding.

Sunday's Big Ride

I met up with Dave on Sunday to do the big ride. We had initially planned on biking to Centennial Elementary School, which would have made the ride 150 miles. But as we approached Arlington, it became clear that we weren't going to make it all the way there and back in time to have sufficient day light - and for me to claim my car at Marymoor Park. Below is a map of our ride as it turned out.

As we approached Marysville, it started raining a little. I had brought my new Sugoi jacket which turned out to be nothing short of spectacular. It was everything the Showers Pass jacket wasn't. Despite its lack of vents, it was breathing just fine and most importantly - it was actually waterproof. Go figure; a waterproof jacket that actually is waterproof. What an amazing concept.

The World's Largest Cinnamon Rolls!
Maltby Cafe

Pumpkins on a fence
First time in proper daylight
I've never started to bike this trail in daylight before so this is the first time I've been able to take a picture of its start in Snohomish.

The Snohomish County Centennial Trail is a recreational treasure. One of two “Centennial Trails” in Washington State, the 29-mile Snohomish County trail runs from the City of Snohomish to north of Bryant.

The trail is nice and tranquil and not too busy - especially when raining.

Dave in the distance

Fall colors

I only counted single-digit slugs. Yeay! We didn't bike very fast and only made it to the Nakashima Farm at the north trail head. I'm not saying it was a short bike ride but the 106 miles were shorter then what I wanted to bike.

Christmas in October...

Bryant - if you blink, you'll miss it

Black bears???

Apparently there are black bears along the trail. I didn't see any, but if I had - I seriously doubt any of the advice posted here would have done me any good...

  • Stay calm and avoid direct eye contact
  • Do not approach the bear
  • Try to scare it away by clapping your hands
  • If the bear attacks, fight back aggressively
The first two are kind of a given, but for me, the single most important piece of advice is missing:

Bike as fast as you can the hell away from the bear - and only hope there's a slower biker behind you.

I would not linger and hang around to see if the bear would ignore me.

Now to the mishap.

When I go on long - and short for that matter - rides, I bring everything I need including food. I'm not a fan of stopping once I'm on my bike and rolling. Dave and hubby, are members of the other camp, which is fine, I'm not a hater. So on the bike ride of yesterday, Dave wanted to stop for food. It was almost four and we still had about 20 miles to bike. Since I had parked at Marymoor, I was a little nervous that they would close the park and I wouldn't be able to retrieve my car. Yes, I drove to the start of a ride for once. Not sure what came over me.

Anyway, we're biking through City of Snohomish and Dave wants to stop for food. I tell him I'm covered and wave my protein bar to show him. He makes a face I'm thinking means he disapproves of my choice of grub. In the midst of my waving I drop my bar and have to stop to retrieve it. Next thing I know I can't see Dave. I figure he's around the bend, so I book it, but can't find him, so I figure he's stopped for food. At this point it starts pouring down so I'll admit I didn't look too hard for him when I can't find him initially. I make the decision to continue on, so I bike on. It's getting dusky, it's really pouring down, and it's a bit windy, making the ride back to Marymoor a proper suck fest. Perhaps that's karma, perhaps it's just coincidence.

A 5:20 I roll into Marymoor Park, wet as a drowned kitten and regretting not wearing rain pants. It took 9 hours to bike 106 miles and that's too long. I need to work on this if I'm to do STP in one day.

Ps! Dave made it home. He had pizza.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Remaining Calm In The Time Of Bicycling

Today was the first day of fall. There's a different chill in the air and the fog was laying dense even when I came down from my hill.

I've become more timid as a bicyclist. I think the incidents of a couple of days ago shook me more than I initially thought. As a consequence I hesitate more - which I know is as dangerous as being too aggressive.

Observing other bicyclists can be helpful, something I do when I can. Seeing how they ride - both as examples of how I'd like to ride and how not to - helps me become a better bicyclist. I don't know if there's a right answer to how one should ride in order to be safe; because being as safe as I can possibly be is the ultimate goal.

Yes, I've been raging a bit on my blog lately, but the rage comes from a place of fear. I love biking and I will continue, but if I'm being completely honest with myself - I'm terrified. I don't want to quit, and I believe the deeply rooted fear I'm currently feeling will fade. So until then, I will bike in fear, hope for the best but expect the worst - which I know is a terrible way to go about my life for two hours on a daily basis.

Josh advised me to be calm. I'd love to be calm. However, calm and fear aren't good roommates. I will continue to post pictures of drivers who make terrible choices. I won't chase after them and you will never see me throwing the first punch. But believe me when I'm saying that it's extremely difficult to remain calm when your heart is racing and your body is pumping to the brim with adrenaline after an almost accident. It's difficult not to react in the heat of the moment when you realize that only luck prevented something really terrible from having happened.

I'm trying not to be an asshole myself, and I'm trying not to be the aggressive bicyclist from hell who gives the rest of us a bad rep. Which is why I always yield to pedestrians, I wait for cars to turn right in my bike lane (if I can), never blaze through intersections, nor pass other bicyclists if I can help it. I'll always say "hello" to a fellow cyclist, because no matter how "Fred" or "Doris" you are (me included) I salute you for biking. Not so much for the carbon footprint reasons, all though it does matter, but because it takes courage and willpower to choose ones bike instead of the car. Especially now when the weather is getting colder and wetter, and it's remaining dark longer in the mornings and earlier in the evenings.

Judging by my latest posts, you might find it hard to believe that I really am a calm and - generally - a nice person. So, namaste, my fellow two-wheelers. Peace and love and the occasional sign language.

How can anyone not be calm when seeing these two...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Isn't It Ironic...

I am a lover, not a fighter. Honestly. I might think some non-lover thoughts quite often, but I rarely act on them. But if I'm challenged to a fight that I'm not starting - it's go time. I'm not strong. I completely lack upper body strength. (Probably shouldn't admit this publicly in case I should encounter anyone who reads this in a non-lover kind of way...) That being said, what I lack in strength I make up for in ferociousness. This kitty's got claws.

I almost made it home yesterday without any incidents. The Bellevue College area was rather uneventful. Perhaps I need to stalk their class schedule. Clearly Wednesdays don't have as many evening classes as Tuesday.

At the bottom of 164th, the climb before I get to the top of Lakemont, there's a three way stop sign. This stop sign is along SE Newport Way - which is NOT a fun stretch on my commute. There's no bike lane, it's windy, and the cars tend to pass me with no sight line. Meaning there's often a car coming towards them mid passing, forcing them to get dangerously close to me.

As I'm approaching the three way stop, I usually take the road in order to prevent cars from hitting me or pushing me into the ditch. I didn't take the road yesterday because there was a string of cars in front of me waiting at the stop sign and I figured no one would be stupid enough to pass me while there were cars approaching from the other side. I was wrong.

Not 30 feet from the stop sign, I was passed by this car.

Anyone spot the irony?

This picture kind of gives you an idea of what this intersection looks like (albeit blurry):

There's a bus stop, there are hedges, and there's a three way stop sign ahead. Not the smartest place to pass anyone. Yet, somehow this car with a BIKE RACK passes me right here. Good thing I am a lover and not the alternative because not only did I catch up with this moron, but we both had to wait for three cars at the stop sign.

I bet the driver of this car was happy she passed me so she could gain that nano second. The only thing that would have made this more ironic would have been bikes on that rack. Road bikes.

This morning was good. Nothing to report. My extra lights make a huge difference in visibility. Now I only need a couple more flashies in the back.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I'm A Safety Girl

"I got red, I got yellow, I got green, I got blue, I'm out of purple, but I do have one Gold Circle coin left."

I don't have a Gold Circle coin but my bike has the rest. Here's some bike safety porn:

My two lights - one for me, and one for the cars

Spoke light - flashes red

Rear red flashing light

Reflector vest

Huge reflector stripe on sock clad leg

Nearer, My God, To Thee - And Biking Disco Balls

For reasons that will be made clear, I have this song in my head:
"Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!"

I'm still pissed about the two attempted murders on me of yesterday. I am not even calling the two incidents accidents. If someone is looking straight at you, but still keeps on driving towards you - then it's attempted murder in my book.

My first encounter happened as I was riding down Kelsey Creek Rd toward Bellevue College.

Above is a map of the scene of the crimes.

As I'm biking along, minding my own business, a car comes peeling out of the parking lot to my left. I clamp my breaks to their max, making the car miss me by two inches. Does the driver stop to check if I'm ok? No. He looks right at me while making a face that says it's my fault for riding on the main road and therefore being in his way. However, I caught up with him and snapped this nice mugshot.

Still shaken from the first attempted murder, I bike on and turn right at Snoqualmie River Rd. Right after one turns onto that road, there are two parking lots flanking the road. I am extra careful now and my legs are actually shaking. This is where I encounter my second assassin. This huge car comes out from the parking lot to my left, driving straight towards me, while the driver is looking straight at me - yet somehow through me.

I am looking at her, she is looking at me, yet she keeps driving towards me. I yell "hey, watch out!". She finally sees me when she's bumper to my left leg, shrugging, waits until I move, then keeps on driving towards the parking lot across the road. I turn my bike around because I am so mad. It's been two almost pancake moments in less than 5 minutes.

Here's a picture of the second assassin:

The picture is a little blurry because I am shaking. My entire body is shaking. I don't even register that her backing lights are on - perhaps in order to finish the job. She doesn't back over me though, probably because there are too many witnesses.
Speaking of witnesses. The only person who asked if I was ok, was another person who had just parked her car. Look, I get that accidents can happen and that one can space out or miss a bicyclist, another car, or a pedestrian from time to time - but I always stop and check that the other person is ok if this happens. I wouldn't be mad if these two morons had done just that - asked if I was ok. After all, they didn't actually kill me or hit me - which by the way was no thanks to them, but only because I have cat like reflexes and apparently amazing disc brakes.

After having eluded death twice, I head straight to REI to get more lights on my bike. I now have two front lights; the NiteRider Lumina 750 lumens and Cygolite Metro 400 lumens, 500 lumens blinking.

In addition to these two lights, I have two spoke lights. One on the front, one on the back tire. I also got a huge reflector strap around my left foot.

This morning I looked like a biking disco ball, but I'd rather be annoying than dead. A word of caution: If you are prone to seizures, my bike might trigger an event.

Now, over to something nicer but related: My visit to REI in Issaquah was AWESOME! I can't even emphasize this enough. I had three people helping me - two of them even placed the spoke light on a bike in the shop and turned off the ceiling lights in order to show me what the spoke light would look like in action. I didn't get their names, but will enquire.

Last, but not least, here's some street fashion I captured on our walk yesterday.