Thursday, May 13, 2010

Reflections: Riding the North Olympic Discovery Trail

No kids
My husband and me; sunshine
Change into cycling gear in the backseat of the van on the Port Angeles pier
It's quiet
Swing a leg over the saddle; cleats snap
Pedal along calm straits and benches facing seaward in the grass, beckoning repose and reflection
Hard packed dirt and pebbles for a stretch, bumpy back to smooth

A litter of pine cones and twigs greets us; our wheels search smooth blacktop
Twists and turns; sharp descents to wooden bridges over brooks and rivers
The sun finds it's way to us through thick clouds
Snow capped peaks loom over big red barns, and gentle-eyed cows munch green blades of grass
We pedal on, smiling, breathing deep
Ladies walk poodles
Trail side, a cyclist's bike and pack are discarded in exchange for roller blades-his arms circle fast, warming up for a hard push along the straightaway near the airport
"Beautiful day, isn't it?" "Yes, it is."
Signs change to white with old-town brown fonts; we miss a turn; miss another

Twenty one miles and turn around
Was the wind at our backs before, or did it just pick up?
A pause to interact with cows and calves, our roadside spectators; they're interested in us, but a bit shy
Railroad Park, another pause - are we getting tired?
Nature calls, a handful of Peanut M&M's shake out of the bag, into the hand, up to the mouth: our fuel
Goofy pictures, laughter
Ride on

Twists and turns, in reverse
Kids jump on a backyard trampoline; jump off homemade dirt ramps on BMX bikes
Two cyclists are up ahead with matching Nike sacks on their backs
"On your left."
She moves right. "There's one more behind me."
She moves left, I brake and move right; she moves right. Her bike leans right as her foot comes to the ground.
Too late. Wheels collide. Hand, hip, shoulder, jaw and helmet hit blacktop.
Husband is off bike and jogging back.
She feels worse than I do. I'm okay, just can't get my shoe unclipped.
She does it for me, helps me up. "Sorry!"
"It's okay."
Pedal on. Stop. Right brake lever and shifter is mashed in, but it works.
Pedal on.

The wind challenges us.
Our thighs begin to burn. Water bottles are drained. M&M's eaten.
No more chatting; no more pictures.
5 miles to go, we know because there are mile markers informing us
A sharp left onto a looping stretch of dirt and pebbles
I stay to the edges, where it's grassy, for smoother riding
Round the bend comes a dog, galloping at top speed, tongue lolling out to the side
A leash pulled tight; a hand
A young man in a crouch-flying on roller blades, his dog pulling him along like the Grinch's poor beast!
He comes out of his crouch as he sees me in his path; I swerve right just in time

Pounding heart, queasy, adrenaline shocked stomach
Breath deeply, turn the crank
Round the unpaved, rocky loop, back to paved shoreline
42 miles
Feeling goofy as we roll onto the pier in P.A.
We take some pictures, load the bikes, surreptitiously change in the van again
A gang of foul mouthed adolescents are parked at the adjacent playground
"Let's get out of here, where should we eat?"
Hungry, can't think straight.

Heading out to Sequim he grabs a lone banana from behind his seat and doesn't offer to share.
"Hey, can I have some of that?"
He rips off the end that he's just bitten and hands it to me with a wild look in his eyes. I gobble it down.
"Okay, let's turn around and go back to that Thai place by the pier", I say.
We do. Cold drafts and spicy noodles fill our bellies. "God, this is so good."
Big belly laughs.
"We don't usually fight over a banana before dinner."
DQ chocolate dipped cones for the car ride home

Kids are in bed.
"Thanks, Mom."
"Okay, I love you honey, bye."
Grandmas just don't know how much richer our lives are because of them.
Ride on.

Airport section

Whimsical, charming...

Spectators by the wayside

Railroad Bridge

Where's the Thai food?

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