Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Soaking it up before we get soaked

Photo: Dropping off some mail on the way in to work. Yes, that's a postal drop box decorated like R2D2. There are a bunch of people on Flickr who have an unhealthy obsession with these things.

43°F this morning. Balmy, for certain. It shouldn't surprise anyone that I saddled up dark'n'early to ride downtown. I am still getting used to spring. Around here, 43° ostensibly sounds like swimming weather. Break out the short sleeves. Really, it's quite chilly for shorts. Impossible? Certainly not. Unwise? Most definitely.

I over-dressed a little bit, but it was only for a lack of owning anything really appropriate for this kind of stuff. A long-sleeve tee-shirt would have been too chilly, and my windbreaker was too warm. A long-sleeve wooly jersey would have been perfect. Alas, I do not own one of these. Perhaps I'll buy one as Autumn approaches.

My narrow tires traversed the road like razors on rails. Despite headwinds, sitting in the drops gave me some decent purchase against the breeze. Crisp, spring morning air severed by a man-machine united rushed past me but without a sound. Nothing but the hum of tires on pavement and the whispering mechanical whirr of jockey wheels feeding chain to the gear cluster. No cars for miles, either. The soft yellow glow of my halogen beam highlighted all hazards well ahead of me. A rhythmic, hypnotic strobing pattern of piercing white-blue light accented street signs at 120 pulses per minute, providing tempo for the electronic music stuck in my head on the ride in.

Approaching Rosedale, KS I encountered a bike ninja. Dark bike, dark clothes and no lights. At least the rider was on the sidewalk. Say what you will about riding on the sidewalk, but that's probably the safer location for a bike ninja before dawn. There were scads of bike commuters today, evidenced only by myriad bikes locked to various stationary objects all over town. I only saw one other person riding, save for the bike ninja which I could have just as easily missed, but it was obvious that I wasn't the only one who thought it was a stellar morning for a bike ride.

The city streets and parking lots have been more crowded than usual this week with the hosting of the Big 12 tournament here in Kansas City's new Power & Light district. The cramped roadways and parking spaces could easily be a few reasons that people are choosing their bikes right now. When faced with congestion and temporary overcrowding, it becomes obvious that riding a bike is actually the lazy and convenient way to travel, if not the only way to actually get around at a reasonable speed in rush hour. The widespread use of bicycles in densely populated areas such as NYC, LA and Beijing is starting to seem a lot more logical to me now.

Even in the pre-daylight phase of morning, Main street is a disaster with traffic. I ended up hopping on the sidewalk to get past a major logjam of cars. In downtown, it's technically legal to ride a bike on the sidewalk, but you always have to be mindful of pedestrians, getting doored by shops or cars, and of course at every intersection. Fortunately, I only needed to sidewalk it for one city block to get my morning coffee. JR's bike was present, and Lorin walked up as I was taking off my heat-trapping windbreaker. Discussion of sports and bikes over coffee filled the remainder of my time before work. I'm not much for ball sports and kind of see it as people getting paid to chase a ball around, so for the most part I zoned out and enjoyed getting caffeinated and gnawing on a banana that I'd brought from home. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking more of what I'd be writing this morning than anything else.

The rest of the week calls for rain and possibly more snow. Today, I am going to soak it up. Tomorrow, we're going to get soaked.

Random Tunage:
Jon Secada - Just Another Day
Say Anything - Baby Girl, I'm a Blur

1 comment:

Apertome said...

Indeed, the rides are getting more and more pleasant as things warm up. I, too, frequently overdress. You might try a wool or acrylic sweater for temperatures like you're describing. It might sound too warm but since they let some air through, it might work out well for you. Just a thought.

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