1.20.2006

anxiety on the road home
tonight I stayed a few minutes late at work
not terriblely late yet late just the same

each late minute late cuts into my potential personal time before I expect everyone to be home for dinner
not prepared dinner
gathering for dinner
selecting, deciding, preparing a dinner that I may be a part of
although it is a beautiful night I lack the urge to ride
it is a beautiful night on an unseasonably warm winter day
yet somehow my spirit was not drawn towards riding
but... as a bicycle commuter the option "not to ride" is not an option
the bike was with me and I needed to go home

the option of route and duration still held potential for variation


against my rideless desire I pointed away from home
started down M Street into georgetown
just a few blocks in almost to Wisconsin Avenue a whim redirected me
not feeling like doing the loop over the bridge into Virginia onto the Mount Vernon Trail
I did a u-turn on M Street and pointed towards the path on Rock Creek Park
this path is also the path leading me home
a path not as direct as the city streets but potentially direct just the same
once pedaling for more than 15 minutes my urge for home lessened the acceptance that a 45-60 minute bike ride was a good option weaved the paved bicycle path maneuvering past lightless runners avoiding fast head ons with oncoming cyclists
most with lights some with HID systems too bright blinding me on the approach
ontop of all that...
always feeling anxious about the cars speeding at fifty-five miles an hour four lanes thick just to my right

the cross bike was feeling good

the level of intensity was moderate
as the path does not permit much more
passed the asian man living under the bridge
passed the old cemetery on the hill
passed the section of woods where I dislocated my shoulder
passed a healthy young "co-ed" at the street crossing an dipped down towards the tunnel along side of the rear entrance of the zoo
opted not to look too closely as the light follows where I point my head
making a look or a glance appear like a stalker with night vision glasses


with a wall of tile just inches from my shoulder and elbow
as I made my way through the tunnel
I could see a couple walking into the tunnel coming towards me
the detour path through the zoo was closed and locked

the pollution filled tunnel was their only option

as I got closer I plotted my move
with darkness hinting at the absence of on coming traffic I popped off the curb and fit into the line of cars moving the same direction as myself

the girl gave a little hoot and a holler with approval
take energy where you can get it
I took that energy and took it up a notch

ignoring the Zoo exit which would be my fastest and most direct route home I continued on the road down Beach Drive

ignoring the notion of getting back on the bike path that meanders along side of the road
the rush hour traffic was thick

cars passed aggressively

with no computer it is hard to guess-ta-mate my speed

though odds are I was closer to being within the legal limits of the 25 MPH than the passing cars

the cars passed and moved in front of me

some cars moving obnoxiously close in front of me.... perhaps too soon

in the distance I could see that there was a line of stopped traffic ahead

the cars that passed me had closed in so close to the right that I could not keep up my pace

passed a few cars while measuring the side view mirror at my shoulder and the gutter of obstacles at my front wheel
with an opening I cut to the center line watching for cars ahead looking to see who each driver was in each cockpit as I passed
wondering if they intentionally blocked my path or if they just drive without thinking

as I reached the front of the line the timing was good the light was about to turn green
I slowed in anticipation
always ready for that last set of cars to run the red light
always ready for
that car looking to jump the gun making an aggressive left turn ignoring the no left turn sign

moving steadily forward having now officially passed my house I notice that my headlamp has died
still blinking on the front and the back
but no headlamp
the car behind me lights my path


through this light and the cyclist enters a part of Rock Creek that is less unusual to have cyclist riding upon it
a few blocks forward the road splits
the three splits in the road free up some of the cars behind me
the car immediately behind me is timid about passing
the car immediately behind them is honking
or
so my spidey senses tell me by the distance and intensity of the repeated honks

the car is not following too closely
they are pacing behind me
it is a paradox
as much as I appreciate their caution and concern
there were several places to pass
which would have eased the pressure from the following line of cars

this stretch of road is a wonderful winding path
a canopy of trees overhead
the creek with all of its rocks that give it its name
yet without a headlamp there is not enough comfort to enjoy the ride

only as long as I am being followed do I have light
as the cars pass I lose their white beams and can only borrow their tail lights
if a another car follows
things are fine
if there are no cars behind me
complete darkness

in no time at all a handful of cars pass
the car with the horn
the cars behind the car with the horn
there I am
lightless
panic strikes as I see nothing but black
my eyes can not make the adjustment fast enough
a car in makes the turn headed my way in the distance
I am fine
still in my lane
still holding the right path

having injured myself several months past has raised the anxiety about crashing
at this moment there is no "Lost Boy" rock and roll vampire emotion as I dip in and out of the darkness
nothing but stiff parental fear

this patern of lights to lightlessness continues
as it gets later it gets darker
deeper into the path at the stop sign at the top of the hill I turn back
would have loved to have pushed it to the Mormon Temple
but the lightlessness of it all was too much anxiety for me
so at the stop sign I made a U-turn thinking I could reel in a well lit bicycle commuter who I had seen going the other way

not so
the transition from back lit to lightless was too sketch
it was sketch enough unable to read the pavement
never knowing how deep a crack would be or how may sticks and branches lie in my path
there was no way I would catch this guy with enough time to ride his lights home
sure enough
he always remained a turn ahead until the final turn home
we exchanged hellos
shared my dead battery tale of woe
mentioned the traffic
mentioned my efforts to catch him
then raced into a black wall of darkness of the final hill home

arrived home
no boys, no dogs, no wife
the leashes were gone
could see our cars out front

only when it was too late did I smell the pizza in the oven
the boys still ate it
even if it was "well done"

lisa went out to grab some carry out for us
after the boys finished we worked on building a two loop Thomas the Train set up
with the large maple blocks we build a series of tunnels
both four year old dean and two year old grant made significant additions
although I did nudge grant;'s blocks after each placement

that is enough now
there were books, books, and more books
then arguements about going to bed
I am tired

best I go and charge my lights
next time I know that I should not try to get two commutes home on one charge

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