Today's hit and run
I'll come back to the belated story of the vacation later. Today I saw some low-life hit a cyclist and drive off.
Bradley Cox and I were bringing up the rear of the Sunday ride at the time of the incident. We had stopped at the intersection of 185 and 203 before making the left turn to climb Dead Rooster Hill. Bradley was leading, and we had gone something more than 100 yards along the straightaway when I suddenly heard squealing tires approaching us very rapidly.
I knew. I heard the tires and thought, this is bad, this is really, really bad. I yelled, "Get off the road now," and yanked Stripe hard to the right. I managed to get about a yard off the roadway. Bradley was just leaving the asphalt when his rear tire was struck by the right front bumper of a gold Toyota Camry.
The car had slowed to maybe 30 mph by that point, but still. Bradley was pitched off to the right, bike and all. Where he went off the road there was tall grass and a slight embankment, which soaked up much of the impact - if you're gonna have this kind of moment, you can't pick a better spot.
Thankfully, Bradley was clear and lucid the whole time. He sat up and immediately called for someone to get the car's information.
It later emerged that the Camry that struck him, and the dark blue or black pickup truck that was pursuing it, had been observed traveling at high speed moments before by a motorist who stopped and gave us assistance. As Tim Hall, Good Samaritan and general nice guy put it, "if I'd pulled out of my driveway 10 seconds earlier it would have been bad." Other motorists later estimated his speed as approximately 100 mph.
The skid marks looked to be something like 50 yards or more long, indicating that the driver had rounded the corner, saw us and slammed on brakes. That locked them up, skidding out of control. The left tire skid mark at the impact point was to the right of the centerline of the lane. His right tire had come off the road, chewing a tire track in the grass and putting him just enough out to hit Bradley at the very edge of the road.
The driver, and the truck that appeared to have been pursuing him, both left the scene at high speed.
Other motorists came to our assistance, calling 911 and helping with traffic control. Juan Adriatico, a cyclist who was driving by, turned his vehicle around and pursued the car, giving the Highway Patrol a partial license plate number. He estimated the driver, who realized he was being pursued again, was pushing the Camry to 120 mph.
The EMTs arrived and determined that Bradley showed no signs of serious injury. His Specialized bike, however, did not fare so well. The left chainstay is broken, and the components will probably grace a new frame in the near future.
We waited a while longer for the HIghway Patrol to arrive. Trooper Jones was helpful and very interested, but we all acknowledge that catching this guy will require a lot of luck.
Bradley will probably be a bit sore for a few days, but should be back on the road soon.
Please be careful out there. There are people out there who'll hit a 15-year-old and drive off.
weirdness observed in Cheyenne
... so I'm riding back to Dameione's house after checking out the Cheyenne Greenway Sunday morning, right? I stopped at the intersection of Airport and Pershing for the light, and I glanced over to my right. There was a cemetery ... with a pinwheel spinning merrily next to one of the headstones.
Was it to honor a last request? A grand-child's salute to a beloved ancestor? It could as easily have been, "Hooray, you're dead at last and I'm gonna celebrate." I'll never know, but I snapped a quick picture before the light changed.
the long vacation, part 2 - Cheyenne
Our hosts slept late, so I rose early and quietly fixed myself the breakfast of post-cardiac champions (oatmeal!) and set out aboard Belle in search of the Cheyenne Greenway. I didn't find it, but I did manage to work in about 15 miles of residential streets and the roads around the airport.
Cheyenne was interesting, as were its people. Along the way I saw lots of older guys out working in their yards. Unfortunately, many of them were not wearing shirts, and I found myself remembering Ainsley's comment about the TV show COPS - "you always know the one without a shirt is going to jail."
I rolled back in to find Dameione and Ana drinking coffee on the patio. We hung out a while and discussed the plan for the day before I headed in to shower and dress in street clothes. Soon afterward, we were riding in the back of Dameione's Cherokee to Laramie via Vedauwoo Road through the Medicine Bow National Park.
Now. I had the infamous $9 pencam. Ana had her magnificent Canon digital camera. Somehow, neither of us took any photos. Maybe we were both too stunned. It's magnificent out there, and maybe someday I'll get out there and have the presence of mind to take pictures.
We wound up in downtown Laramie, where we ate at Dameione's favorite restaurant before walking around and checking out the sights before heading back in to Cheyenne. We wound up snacking more than actually eating before going downtown to see the Old Time Melodrama at a c.1887 theatre. And yes, it was hokey beyond words, but that's the fun of it, right?
Sunday I got back out aboard Belle, where I once again I had trouble finding the Greenway - until I stopped a local cyclist and got more detailed directions.
The entrance is not marked at all, really. Once I got onto the concrete ribbon, I was delighted. The grades were never overly steep, and they had thoughtfully provided some great underpasses and bridges along the way. I need to go back to Cheyenne someday and ride the whole thing, now that I know where it starts.
We hung out and stayed in, taking advantage of the newly-finished basement area to beat the heat. Well, our hosts did - we found the aridity kept us from feeling hot. We wound up eating grilled chicken and spicey pasta and relaxing on the patio again with Jake the Weimaraner before crashing for the night.
the long vacation, part 1
Ana and I set out on the 12th for the Golden West to go visit friends in Wyoming. We loaded up clothes, foodstuffs and dietary supplements, a really useful road atlas and lots of other goodies into the Prius.
Of course I took a bike. I found a way to fit Belle in behind the front seats with her wheels and pedals removed and the drivetrain covered in plastic to spare the upholstery. The floor pump got stashed in the truck along with my cycling duffle bag stuffed with jerseys, shorts, helmet and shoes.
We got off to a later start than we planned, but made up time as we went along. First we drove towards Augusta to find I-20. We had lunch at a California Dreaming, which was the high point of our chain restaurant dining experiences. From there we headed for Birmingham, where we had much better success with the local Irondale Cafe. Don't know the name? They used it as the setting of the film Fried Green Tomatoes. The meal was excellent, too.
Driving across Alabama, I kept thinking that the place names lent themselves to being used as names for fictional characters. "Eastaboga Ranborn" has a certain ring to it, and "Leeds Moody" sounded to me like something from Dickens. We laughed about it and headed on to Tupelo, birthplace o' Elvis, where the first of a series of hotel rooms awaited us.
The next day was the Hell day. Between trying to find accomodations and working out the schedule, we found ourselves confronted with many long hours on the road. We crossed over into Missouri, where basically we drove the length of the state from south to north to St. Louis.
We were about halfway up when hunger knocked. The luckiest moment of the day was when we missed the Ruby Tuesday in Sikeston and saw Lambert's
. I'd seen the billboards advertising it as the "Home of the Throwed Roll," but hadn't though much about it. Ana decided that the presence of many motorcycles suggested the food might be pretty good, so we stopped.
This is the place Cracker Barrel wishes it was. In business since 1942, written up in assorted magazines, Lambert's is all you can eat Southern goodness. We ordered the smoked pork chops - which convinced us that I need to buy a smoker in the very near future. The wait staff would periodically emerge with trays of hot-from-the-oven yeast rolls and call out, "hot rolls!" Patrons would raise their hands and catch them as they were tossed the length of the dining room. Somet
imes a patron wouldn't realize one was en route - when a guy in the next booth looked the wrong way, Ana got hit by one. Periodically other servers would come by offering black-eyed peas cooked with onions, skillet-fried potatoes and our favorite - fried okra.
On to St. Louis, where we encountered bad traffic and much construction. To cap it off, a squall line descended upon us, dumping heavy rain and hail. By this point, we had negotiated the St. Louis area and had turned west to drive to the other end of the state near Kansas City, before turning north towards Iowa. I never thought we'd be cheering to reach Iowa, but we did, and loudly.
Lincoln Nebraska is a surprisingly pretty place, even at 2:00 in the morning. We drove through much of the town, somehow managing to pick our way through the various detours, until we reached our hotel.
Friday came and we were off, rolling down two-laned Nebraska Highway 2 until we picked up I-80. We'd gotten an email from our host warning us of the dangers of altitude sickness and urging us to hydrate heavily, so we did. As a result, we stopped at every rest stop the state had to offer.
For the first half of the state, I felt like an exercise in geometry. I could look dead ahead or back in the rear view mirror and regard the vanishing points of the highway on the horizon. My stagecraft professor might have dug it, but I wasn't so sure. After a while, the cornfields were gone and the prairie grass took over. We climbed steadily through the afternoon into ever more barren surroundings.
Lunch was in Paxton at Ole's Big Game Lounge and Steakhouse
, where decades worth of big game trophy heads oversaw our meal. What can you say about a place where you're greeted by an enormous stuffed polar bear and every table is watched over by a moose or elk or elephant head? PETA types wouldn't dig it, but if you could get past the taxidermists gone wild ambience, they had an amazing buffalo burger that made the drive worthwhile. Good thing, too - there was nothing else out there.
We took a couple of pictures of downtown Paxton - a post office, a garage, a tiny library, and three or four bars - and decided it was fun to visit but surely hell to live there in the winter. Back out to I-80 we went, into terrain straight out of "About Schmidt."
On again, out into the serene wasteland that is western Nebraska, climbing still and headed for Cheyenne, Wyoming. A few hours later, we arrived at Dameione and Troy's, dropped our luggage and stashed Belle in the garage and immediately were whisked away to a party.
independence day and other rides
It's been a very full couple of weeks here, my only excuse for not keeping this blog up to date. I'm sure I'm leaving some rides out of this, but that's life and my not-so-hot memory.
The biggest thing here lately was the mother of all yard sales combined with the drive to get rid of the last of the assorted estate items that needed to go. Ana proposed that we take everything off every shelf and out of every closet and cabinet in the house and either keep, sell, donate or trash it. It was a massive undertaking that culminated in a huge sale, but the prep work kept me pretty busy for a while.
I did get to participate in the joint Greenwood Cycling Club/Laurens Cycling Club ride on July 4th. I drove out from Greenwood with Belle in the back of the truck, making the right turn off 72 onto 560 and then driving down to the largely defunct downtown of Cross Hill. The businesses there are largely boarded up and long gone, but there's still a Confederate war memorial. Vonona was there, waiting with Harriet, a Laurens rider. Fairly soon after I arrived Donna, another Laurens rider, showed up. Moments after that, Ainsley rode up on his LeMond, followed by a gentleman named Dan. We did introductions and Ainsley and Dan picked out a route and we headed back out to 72.
Road construction forced us right onto 72. It was a little nervous - it's a high-speed road - but after a bit it opened up some, and we cut right onto a quieter road after a few miles. We passed a couple of dirt roads - Ai
nsley and I both went, "mmmmm .... dirt ...." - and traveled down a couple of narrow but smooth roads as we looped about before coming back in to Cross Hill with just under 15 miles.
On the way out of town, I stopped to buy some locally grown yellow corn and some potatoes from a guy with a truck by the side of the road, then went home to grill massive organic ground sirloin burgers. Yum ...
I commuted to work the next day, then didn't touch a bike again until today, Sunday. Saturday's sale was a big deal. People were stacked up waiting for us to open up the garage before 7:00, and it was a lot like watching as swarm of sharks for the first hour or so. All the albums went, as well as all of the vintage costume jewelry and a shocking number of other items. After we closed up and had lunch, we finished prepping the few remainders for pickup next week by whichever charity is willing to come and get them.
What stunned me was how, after finishing, I can clap my hands and hear an echo in the garage. I'm still working out how I'll set up my work bench, where I'll hang the mountain bikes, and where the trainer will go. Ana will actually get to park her car in a garage - something we've never been able to do before.
Today Ainsley and I met downtown at 4:00. A fellow named Spencer from Missouri who was visiting family in the Columbia area was hoping to get in a fixed-gear ride with us. The scheduling didn't work out, alas, but Ainsley and I managed to get in a nice little ramble.
We hung out for half an hour before leaving, sitting at one of the new picnic tables downtown in the shade and swapping stories and discussing the day's route.
"We've never been down Hitching Post Road," Ainsley said.
"You're right. Let's go down the trail to the Canadian Mist Highway and take Hitching Post from that end," I said.
So we did, leaving at 4:3o. Riding down the trail, we discussed all sorts of stuff. We were a few hundred yards from the end when I mentioned Ana's Mexican-style lasagna, using corn tortillas instead of pasta and filling itn chockfull of salsa and other goodies.
"Okay," Ainsley said. "Now I'm hungry."
"Well, it's tradition," I said. "We're supposed to talk about food at some point while riding out on the trail. How many times has Donis fussed at me about making her hungry by talking about food?"
Hitching Post Road turned out to be pretty good, being paved for much of its length, followed by a great, if sandy, stretch back out to Scotch Cross. We turned left and headed towards Ninety Six, making the right turn onto Lowden Road and riding to Star Fort National Park. We stopped there for a bit before heading on towards town. We cut left and rode back towards town past the golf course before taking Lebanon Church Road to the Canadian Mist Highway and retracing our steps back to town. I had 29.3 miles by the time I got home.