Internal Detours
Thursday, March 16, 2006
  a coastal ride, falling in the woods, commuting daily

I'm late getting back online. Part of it was a trip to the beach, part of it was life getting in the way of writing a blog, part of it was just plain basic laziness on my part. Oh, well.

I mentioned the beach. Ana and I took four days to run down to the Isle of Palms, enjoying a small getaway. I packed Stripe up, removing pedals, putting the wheels in big black trashbags and wrapping the drivetrain in thick plastic. It all fit nicely in the backseat of the Toyota, too.

After spending Friday downtown walking around King Street, checking out galleries and the Gibbes Art Museum, I rode Saturday. I left the condo and headed out along Ocean Boulevard, working my way through the residential areas and towards Sullivan's Island. Hopping out onto 703, I quickly worked my way over to Middle Street and rolled down the length of the island. At the far end, I found a couple hundred feet's worth of unpaved road, then turned and headed back. I passed the back end of Fort Moultrie. I passed several historical markers for fortifications used during the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and World War II. Lots of artillery parked out there, including several Dahlgren guns - and yeah, being able to identify and spell that particular type of cannon really is a warning sign of a childhood spent being a Civil War nerd.

The houses were a mix on Sullivan's Island. The small ones, low one story places, had been there forever. Local folks lived in places like that. Overwhelming them were the new McMansions, typically three-stories of faux clapboard and lots of balconies. Who knows how much longer before the people who keep Sullivan's Island's restaurants and stores going won't be able to afford to live there anymore?

I was making the turn towards 703 and the bridge back to Isle of Palms when I saw three cyclists in a paceline. I judged the distance, figured they wouldn't hear me, then accelerated. I stopped for the sign, waited for two cars to pass, then shifted up and chased. It took a moment, but I dug in and caught them. There was too much traffic to do much more than say "hello" to establish that I was back there.

About a mile or so later we passed 517 and its bridge to Mt. Pleasant, then took a left turn onto a quieter street. I had the chance to talk with Amy, Rebecca and Joe over the next couple of miles. The pace was moderate and conversational, and I settled in to the 53x23 and spun along with them. I felt like the Ancient Mariner, riding in clips and straps aboard my battered, scratched old Mercian with downtube shifters while they rolled along on their shiny STI-equipped Litespeeds and Specializeds. No matter.

They took me through the construction entrance to Wild Dunes, a gated community I'd been in a couple of years back. I saw a lot of well-fed people walking about or wobbling uncertainly along the bike paths on beach cruisers. Somewhere in there, Rebecca's iPod Nano escaped and bounced along the roadway - and survived nicely, thank you.

We went back out of the Dunes and headed back. I said my goodbyes and rode back to the condo. 25.8 miles, pleasant companions, and a nice ride on a lovely day.

I got to commute Monday. It was fun to ride fixed again, even if only for the short hop to work and back. Tuesday night I rode the trails, and the ride wound up being rather different.

Early on I got a warning it would be a challenging ride. Coming up the hill from the Rock I was doing all right. We were passing through the scorched forest, where the Forest Service had done a controlled burn recently. Thanks go to Ainsley for the pictures. Oh, yeah - more than a week later, there are still small fires smoldering out there. I approached the first log, one I've hopped over a zillion times - and blew it. Too slow, too far over to the right, whatever. Thump, down I went. At the time I knew about the skinned elbow and the solid thump to my lower back when I landed on the log. Later, I would discover I'd managed to hit myself low down on the ribs with either the handlebars or my own elbow. I managed to not dump a whole bucket of guttural consonants and full glottal stops.

After I straightened my handlebars, we rode on down to Grattan's Bridge, past Ronanhenge and through the charred stuff down through the muddy crossings. Back we came up the long hill, muscling up the climbs sometimes, giving up and walking others. By the time I got back to the truck, I could tell I'd feel the fall the next day.

I drove the six miles or so back to the pavement, then headed home. When I pulled up in my driveway, I discovered I hadn't clamped the fork properly when I put the old Trek into the rack. The bike had toppled over into the bed of the truck, mangling the right front dropout in the process. Sigh.

More commuting Wednesday and today. It's strange - the places where I banged up my body hurt when I walked or turned in my chair, but were fine when I was on the bike. Go figure.

We'll see how I do Saturday. Ainsley and I are talking about a longer ride on the fixed-gears ...
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Location: Greenwood, South Carolina, United States
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