Friday, October 24, 2008

The October Ride

Several riders braved the cold temps last weekend and joined the last (organized) group ride of the year. The ride destination was Tappan and Atwood Lakes in north east Ohio and the thermometer read somewhere around 36ยบ F when we left Newark.

There were 11 or 12 bikes in the caravan with about a dozen and a half people crazy enough - some might say driven - to venture out.

My better half wanted desperately to go, but was under the weather and spent the day in a comfy bed though she was not particularly comfortable. Since she has the photo duties on our rides, I never even bothered to take the camera. And I can kick myself for that decision because the fall colors were brilliant. You'll have to take my word for it. Sorry.

Pucker Factor I
The roads were smooth and mostly clear of any gravel except for one spot that really jacked up my pucker factor. My rear tire kicked out about a foot during a right hand curve but finally grabbed hold of solid pavement and righted herself.

It was a blind curve at the top of a hill and dropped away to the right following the contour of the terrain. I didn't see the gravel. That part of the road was in shade and I had just come out of sunlight. My speed wasn't really a factor but given the amount of aggregate on the surface, a better line into the curve would have saved me from the slide.

After the bike straightened, I looked in my rear view and saw Mike on his Road King go wide crossing the center line. Apparently, he didn't see the gravel either but he saw me slide and was able to avoid my path.

We followed the road down the hill through several shaded and sweeping curves. Near the bottom of the hill the trees cleared and I saw that after a short straight-away the road made a 90 degree turn to the left.

I looked left and followed the road with my eyes as far as I could see and then turned my attention to my immediate surroundings. There was a pasture on the left and a small farm house on the right about 30 feet from the road, very near the 90 degree left turn.

Pucker Factor II
And then I saw her. Standing at the shoulder straddling the ditch and straining her neck to reach greener grass was a jersey cow!

At first I thought to myself, "Holy Cow!" No, really.

Now, keep in mind, just 60 seconds earlier I had just escaped calamity in gravel and I was just a little hyped up, adrenalin still flowing, noticing everything and taking it all in. I looked for a possible escape route should this cow decide to wander out further into the road.

I slowed down and motioned for Mike behind me to do the same. I started to go wide, avoiding the bovine, and wondered why no one bothered to signal? There's a cow crossing the road and nobody ahead of me signaled the hazard!

What I didn't see until Bessie was about 30 feet away was the rope around her neck stretched out along the ground and tied to a stake in front yard of the farm house. The reason she was straining her neck? She was at the end of her rope!

The next 20 minutes were uneventful which let my nerves calm down. We stopped at Deersville which is really nothing more than a wide spot in the road. Several riders enjoyed a small ice cream cone (that turn out to hold about a quart of ice cream) while we stood outside the Deersville General Store and laughed about ole' Bessie.

And having hamburger for lunch.

Ride Safe!


Lance said...

Doug, glad to read that you made it through that curve OK - that's a big fear of mine - hitting some gravel and having a wheel come out from under me. After an incident like that, I would have had several hamburgers!

John McClane said...

I hate gravel!

Doug C said...

Lance & John - Something I hate more than gravel is not seeing it in my path. Sorta like the boogie man jumping out from around a corner and saying "Boo!!!!" with some rather ugly consequences.

dave said...

Doug, I just found your blog this morning and have read way to much of it over the last couple of hours. I have posted a couple thoughts on some older sections but wanted to say how much your story resonates with me. I also want to add that since my wife WON'T ride, I am very jealous of you and Teresa. I do however have an 11 yr old daughter who loves to ride - my biker chick. Ride safe!!

irondad said...

Ok, Doug, I think you're "milking" the hazard tales, a little!

Seriously, more experiences to hopefully add to the treasure chest. You've come a long way from that beginner I first met.

Doug C said...

Dave - Glad you've found someone to share the ride with. Teresa always considered riding to dangerous to even consider it. Fostering her trust in me and proving I wasn't a knuckle head help convince her otherwise.

Besides, for us, although the hazards are real, the benefits far out weigh the risks. Keeps us sane. Well, if not sane, maybe a little less crazy.

Dan - Cute. Everyone knows that jerseys have the richest milk, too. Too rich for babies!

My sister's family raised a pair of jerseys about a year ago. They named them Lunch and Dinner.

And, you're right. You can't improve if you just think about it. You gotta do it.