Dec 9, 2011

Two Very Different Bike Rides

Yesterday, I thought I'd stop at Dunkin Donuts, even though it meant riding the long way to school (and up a big hill).  I got the "limited" mocha peppermint iced coffee, since I love that stuff.  Took a few drinks and put it in my water bottle holder.  Rode down the other side of the big hill, huge puddle, feet got wet, almost late for work.

So as a rule, I avoid the crazy traffic of Salem by using a pedestrian bridge... handicapped-accessible switchbacks and all.

Well, in the last couple of months, I've been fooling myself into thinking I'm doing some sort of mountain bike training by learning to skid my back wheel through the corners.  One of the latest nuances I've learned in this vein is that if you lean forward, it lightens the back wheel and extends the slide quite a bit.

Now, it being early in the morning, the synapses of my brain were not firing to full capacity.  I rode across the bridge over the (4 lane) road, and began picking up speed descending.  I'd forgotten the coffee and thought I'd start the morning with a little sliding practice.  I forgot two things:   1) the coffee and 2) that my rims were wet from that puddle (I hadn't needed to use the brakes at all since then).  My weight was already forward as I hit the back brakes, and they didn't work.  At all.

Now, there's two ways down from the bridge:  the switchbacks I've referred to, and a pretty steep set of stairs.  I was headed straight at these stairs with my weight leaned forward when my reflexes took over.  They jammed on the front brake, the rear end flew up, and everything exploded with coffee.

How I didn't get peppermint coffee all over me, or hit the ground with my body, I'll never know.  What I do know is that my iced coffee had exploded.  The cup was simply shards.  The ice was still around, but the coffee had simply evaporated.  I couldn't find it at all.

Shot while riding with my cellphone.

Nearly sunset at Salem Woods.  The best place for a rest.


And then, tonight, I was having a nice mountain bike ride, that began to get a bit muddy- no problem, that was assumed, encouraged, even.  And then, the trail became a flowing stream.

Excuse me?

Yes, the trail became a stream.  A gurgling, babbling, brook.

Now, if I'd never been there before, I'd think this was an actual stream.  Just the way things are.  But in fact I've been on this trail before, and it is just that- a trail.  There's a tiny stream at one point, and a pipe the water flows through with a small bridge up and over the small pipe.  Even after rain, this is how it's been.

But now, out of the blue and with no large rainstorms in recent memory, the trail is a stream.

This was a bit of a conundrum for me.  I've always been told/taught and observed that eroded trails are not a good idea.  Usually this happens when a trail goes straight down a hill.  The rain comes, and flows down the trail, taking the dirt and leaving the rocks.  But this was table-flat.  And yet there it was.

I saw a place further along the stream where I thought I could let off a little of the pressure of the original source.  But along with the idea that erosion is bad (and thus a stream down the trail should be... disdained) is the realization and awareness that some places are off limits for modification.  Wetlands, for example.  But this was a trail through the woods- or was it a wetland?

I made what I hope was the right decision.  I dug a little canal to start water flowing from further down the "stream".  I built the best dam I could across the original outlet 50 or so feet further up the stream/trail.  And I cleared away what debris I could see that would keep the water from moving towards my new outlet.  Then I built a second small dam (a line of stones, really) across the beginning of the trail/stream to try to slow further what had made it through my first dam.

And just as I finished doing all of this, I looked up and saw a full moon rising through the trees.  Can I take that as confirmation I did the right thing?

Hopefully, my little canal has by now become a new raging stream, thus draining power from the original outlet and further strengthening my dam.  Thus allowing the trail time to soak up the slow-flowing stream now on top of it.

I rode home along the train tracks, and made it home just before Kath and Lucy got back from girl scouts.  A successful outing.

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