More Up

Just tore up a 2.5 mile ride around our local pond. Probably exceeded 10 mph on the road coming home, but I have no way of knowing. Luckily I was on my fixed gear ANT with triple Phil Wood (two hubs and the bottom bracket) and Chris King headset. Lesser bearings would not have withstood the punishing speed and distance.

I had to get out of the heat in the house and I never tire of making laps around the pond at sunset. The crushed stone path is so smooth you’d think it was pavement except where erosion has dug deep lines in its face. The channels are of the right quantity and just deep enough to keep me awake, but never threaten to interrupt relaxed rolling. Despite the inviting surface, dogs, ducks, kids and peds get the right of way. I am bottom of the pecking order and pedal accordingly. It is still fun and it makes me feel like a kid (the kind of kid with four decades on the odometer, lots of obligations, a severe junk food deficiency and an overdeveloped sense of responsibility toward others).

I was having a much better time that the kid with less than a decade under his belt who I watched pedal straight into a fire hydrant on a road adjacent to the pond. Must have been full speed for him, until he was going zero and on the ground. The expected sounds issued forth, but I was glad to see him pumping his leg in staccato rhythms keeping time with his wails. Lower extremities functioning. Check. Two responsible looking adults on scene attending to him. Check. I pedaled another lap. On my second lap he was standing and fiddling with his helmet. Maybe the adults were lauding his good sense for having it on and inspecting it for damage. Most likely a distraction to help him quiet down. On my third lap he was gone and his bike was on the porch. No ambulance. It was all good. Nothing left but to live and learn.

As I watched this all unfold, I enjoyed the wind blowing through my hair unimpeded by a helmet. I wear a helmet on most every ride but sometimes not on my trips to the pond. If the Dutch get to pedal without helmets all the time, I will roll the dice on my slow motion neighborhood excursions. When Lacey emerges from the house without a helmet, I refuse to leave until she puts one on. Absolutely a double standard. I care more about her than myself. If she insisted that I put on a helmet, I would, but she isn’t around to see me roll around the pond without a lid.

Maybe the pond is more thrilling than I let on. Someday I will tell the story about the little person I got to watch exit the narrow path, roll down a steep bank and plunge straight into the hot green waters, bicycle, helmet and all. A classic case of target fixation. Until then, watch for fire hydrants (but don’t stare at them).

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