Thursday, September 25, 2008

Snot Rockets Alfresco

Allergies or a cold slammed me in the sinuses early this week as I hurried to stuff the season's firewood into the shed before heavy rain moves in this weekend. The bottom of the pile in the driveway had gotten moist and moldy over the summer. I could have huffed a lungful of spores. Either way, I felt like crap, so I wasn't doing any more than I had to.

Wednesday I drove because of another municipal law lecture. This one was about the tremendously controversial Shoreland Protection Act, so I didn't want to miss it. People sitting near me when I lost control of my coughing fifteen minutes before the finish line might have wished I'd skipped it, but I'm still glad I went.

Yesterday was the last nice day on the forecast before the tropical deluge. I didn't feel up to the whole standard commute, but I needed something. The zoning board had a hearing at 7 p.m., but I can usually sprint the distance in time to hit my chair in time. Surely I could do a mild DERT commute and make it in time.

My home is in a river valley. Fall mornings it is always shrouded in fog, ten degrees colder than the open country a couple of miles down my route. I left the house somewhat bundled up, with the bike stuffed in the back of the car.

The path commute helps me salvage bike time and reduce car use somewhat as the autumn schedule, weather and shorter daylight makes the full route less practical. I don't like having to involve the car, but we don't have public transportation at all, let alone buses with bike racks. Get your own ass to work or die.

A good load of phlegm can be an asset in traffic or a tight racing field. In the car I just fill up the passenger side foot well with used tissues. On the bike I can use that ejecta tactically to claim space in the lane.

The path removes the tactical aspect of chucking a clam or unloading a snot rocket, but I don't have to worry about letting them fly, either. No need to roll down a window and put some extra oomph behind a clam to get it clear of the car's 40- or 50- mph slipstream. Just let 'em rip! Freedom!

The path runs gently down grade into town. Early in the morning, few riders are out. I did pass a dog walker every 100 yards once I was halfway to town. Fortunately,the dogs were leashed and well behaved and the owners weren't visibly hostile. Different user groups on a multi-use path can get territorial.

In the fun turns at the Allen A Beach, I smelled skunk strongly in two places. Imagine whipping around a blind turn and startling one of those on your way to work. I was lucky and only encountered the smell.

The worst thing about a path commute is that I pop out into traffic without the long warm up I get from the normal route. Especially yesterday, being sick and all, I felt ragged and weak as I stuck my elbow into the flow on Center Street. Traffic was light, probably because I was late.

Even a little ride is better than no ride at all. This morning, the clouds hang low. I might manage to sneak to town on the rain bike before the heavy stuff hits, so I can ride a half-carpool with my wife. She's enjoying the allergies/cold now, but that doesn't prove it was an infectious disease. She finished the wood pile chore and encountered the same moldiness.

After four days I feel lots better than I did on Monday and Tuesday. Whatever this thing is, it doesn't hang around. If you have to be sick, that's the best you can ask.

According to the radar, the rain is on the doorstep. Time to make some strategic decisions and head out.

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