30 March 2010


Ah, spring -- that loveliest, most bipolar of seasons! Balmy, sweet afternoons and midnight tornadoes. And unlike hurricanes, tornadoes aren't likely to clear the air. The morning after a hurricane seems most often to be bluer than blue, bright and gleaming; after a tornado, it just rains some more. Hurricanes are temper tantrums; tornadoes are the psychotic break before a major depressive episode.

Sunday, they had tornadoes back home. From the looks of things on the Weather Channel Monday morning, it was still raining in North Carolina. Up here in Kentucky, yesterday was just -- how do I say this? -- bleh.

But I was at the office, and it was Monday. And right now, I don't do Mondays. At least not at the office. I was there because I had one project -- four pieces of Health Literacy revisions -- that I needed to run through the assessment tool, which I can't get to from home. I went in at 7 a.m. with Mr. Early Bird, and I'd hoped to be out by 9 a.m., on the way home to finish out the day at my desk by the window.

No such luck. The phone kept ringing, the Health Literacy pieces kept refusing to go below a 7th grade reading level (we shoot for 6th), and I finally realized I was going to miss the 10 a.m. bus home and decided enough was enough. I borrowed a helmet from my friend Kirk, who keeps a spare at his desk, and I checked out a B-Cycle.

We have bikes where I work. You can sign up for a B-Cycle card, get a helmet that's just your size (Kirk's took some adjusting...), and then when you need wheels for a short hop (or in my case, a longer haul), you put on your helmet, scan your card, choose a bicycle, and it's yours for 24 hours. They're good, solid bikes, heavier than Nellie Belle, but with great baskets and -- I have to admit -- somewhat more precise gears. They're a little harder to shift, because they're the dial-on-the-grip type; we old ladies with the beginnings of arthritis in our hands sometimes have trouble with the grip required to turn them. But they are more finely tuned than the little "thumb-clicker" ones like Nellie Belle has.

The weather yesterday was chilly. It was supposed to be in the 50s, but it didn't get there until almost sunset, after the clouds broke. At 10 a.m., it was foggy, damp, and still in the low 40s with a wind chill in the 30s. Actually, it felt almost exactly like it did in November, the day before Thanksgiving. And the route was much the same. Not bad -- unless you don't have gloves.

I stopped at the bike shop; all the winter stock was gone, and all they had were fingerless riding gloves. Better than nothing.

I rode four miles before the #15 bus caught up with me, and I took it to the end of the line, then rode from Holiday Manor out Brownsboro Road to Goose Creek. It's a nice ride, except that the shoulder is one continuous 6"-wide rumble strip and nothing else, and at least one driver in a white Lexus seemed to think that was where I should be. Ms. Lexus needs an education in bicycle law, but we'll save that for later.

Goose Creek to Westport Road -- four very civilized lanes. Yes, the traffic moves faster, but the lanes are wider, the shoulders are a good four feet across for the most part, and people aren't inclined to cut as close as on Brownsboro (or worse yet, Herr Lane, which is a cyclist's nightmare -- I'd rather ride on Shelbyville Road at the malls). Then down Frey's Hill past Tom Sawyer Park, over to Evergreen and down to the Middletown Breadworks, where my daughter was working. Last stop, both yesterday and last November. Then was for bread; yesterday was for the house keys.

When you're chilled at the extremities and slightly sweaty otherwise, you can make a great lunch of peanut butter and a multi-grain bagel with a glass of diet Sprite on the side. And it's just the right amount of fuel for the last four miles home.

16 miles altogether -- not a bad ride for the first real commute of the season.

Pedal on! WOO-HOO!!

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