Monday, September 7, 2015

In Which I Don’t Have to Eat Coach Ryan

Morning Glory on fence by Quaker Oats. I'm nearly done with ride, delirious with hunger, but fortunately did not eat any flowers or other bikers.

The wait for the train stretched on like a line of rail boxcars from here to Canada.

With the exception of the long wait, which was more than 30 minutes and counting when I gave up, it was a pleasant “Mayors Bike Ride” today, an annual free bike tour of Cedar Rapids sponsored by the Linn County Trails Association.

Ride is about to start, I'm near the front. The crowd. Cate, are you there somewhere?

The crowd seemed a bit smaller than last year, but maybe that was due to morning rain, even though it was warm and sunny by ride time. Or maybe because it was hot and humid today—storms tonight will break our heatwave. Or maybe there were concerns in the wild bicycling tribe that cannibalism would break out, and many riders chose not to take that risk.

I left home around 9 a.m., a bit late, I know, but I made it to Ellis Park by 9:50. I quickly registered, forgot to get a sticker (oh well) and had time for a quick restroom break before we began to line up. I looked around for familiar faces, but saw neither my sister nor Bob, the retired art professor, two people I often meet at this ride. Cate, where you there? I was going to text you, but discovered my cell was dying for lack of power.

Many Trail Association volunteers watched over us at busy corners--thank you! And I thought traffic lights would be the big delay. Little did I know ...
Anyway, Ryan Scheckel, Mount Mercy track coach, was there with his Mustang jersey on, too, so there were two of us in MMU colors. We said hello before the tour, but lined up at different spots.

The mayors, three of them, made brief speeches. Then, CR Ron got to ring the cow bell, and we were off.

The ride is an 8-mile loop, and despite many stop lights, I would normally finish in about an hour. It was more like an hour and 45 minutes today. Most of the ride was warm, sunny and pleasant, a pretty bike jaunt along an easy, flat route.

But, halfway through the ride, as we entered the leg of the ride that heads down to Cedar Lake, the route crosses railroad tracks. And a long train was there, heading south, blocking our way. And then stopping. And then heading south a few inches. And then stopping. And then heading south a few inches. And then stopping.

In my mind, a short guy's irritating voice shouted "the train! the train!" And then Ricardo Montalban said, "Welcome, to Fantasy Bike Ride."

As it happened, Ryan had stopped for the train nearby. I sheltered under the shade of a tree along an alley to wait out the train, and Ryan joined me and we chatted. And chatted. And chatted. Finally, he was ready to head north—either to go home or go around the train or avoid the inevitable when the crowd went all Donner Party to survive.

I was all alone when I stopped. And then this started to happen. Are they hungry?

Coach Ryan documents the train. For his bike blog?

Remember the crowd from before? 20 minutes later, this.

If I don't make it, tell Audrey I love her. And I was delicious. Coach and I in our final selfie. Until the next selfie.

As calmness sweeps the crowd, a drone overhead records the lack of mayhem. Despite the train delay, no bikers that I saw were eaten.

Well, we were only four blocks south of J Avenue, and eventually, a few minutes after Ryan avoided becoming lunch, I headed north on a nearby side street. As it turned out, the slow south-moving train had indeed cleared J Avenue, so my route back to the Cedar River Trail was clear. I was a bit concerned that when I got to downtown Cedar Rapids, the Slow Moving Train of Doom would have traffic blocked there too—but no, I was able to complete the ride before noon—only an hour or so later than expected.

They had signs along the trail by Cedar Lake, because it is narrow, there, warning of "heavy bike traffic." Thanks. I am trying to lose weight.

At the end, I paused at a picnic shelter in Ellis Park and ate a bag of nuts. I’m sure they probably tasted better than the desperate alternative back at the train, anyway.

View of Cedar River and bike trail as I eat my nuts at the end of the ride. Once again, thank you Linn County Trail Association for the ride, Mayor Ron for those mad cow bell skills, and Coach Ryan for not cooking any professors along the ride.

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