What I Saw and Didn’t See

Day’s Verse:
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:26-28

This Porch is Comfy!
I think Carmel likes laying on the step because it gives her something to lean against and it’s just the right height to perch her head on.

Riding home on the Burke this evening, I saw three astonishing things.

  1. I heard, but didn’t see a car crash on Montlake Blvd. There was a shout — and then the distinct crunching noise of a bumper meeting another bumper. I didn’t turn to see this particular event, being distracted at the time by #2.
  2. A shirtless, well-muscled guy pushing a grill up the trail from Pend Orielle Road. Not just a little grill, either. This was a full-sized, man’s dream grill, and he was moving it along at a good clip. The guy I was riding with, Mark, and I commented to each other, “You never know what you’ll see on the trail!” I wondered what grill-man said when he passed people — “Burgers on your left”?
  3. A fistfight. Seriously. Here’s what I saw happen. Mark and I are riding along behind a couple of slightly faster cyclists just past 40th Ave NE. Then one of the faster riders moves over onto the graveled pedestrian path that parallels the paved path at that point. The next thing I know, the guy on the gravel path (Cyclist A) has stopped and is standing there, shouting. The other guy, Cyclist B, slams on his brakes and skids to a halt perpendicular to the trail, which brings me and Mark to quick stops. Cyclist B picks up his bike off the trail and heaves it into the bushes — and hurls himself at Cyclist A. Or maybe A rushed him. I didn’t see clearly. The next thing I know, they’re literally punching each other in the face, yelling, calling one another filthy names; then they’re on the ground, rolling around in the gravel, pummeling each other, gouging eyes, all-round attacking each other. Mark and a couple other guy bicyclists hurl themselves into the fray and pull the two fighters apart, with no small difficulty. The guys continue yelling at each other until Mark’s repeated shouting “Break it up! This isn’t worth it!” penetrates their skulls. Cyclist B says, “Let me just ask you one question,” but Mark says, “No. Just keep riding or I’ll call the cops.” One of the cyclists says, “This is a free trail!” and Mark overrides their protests, very firmly repeating, “Keep riding or I’ll call the cops” a couple more times. Cyclist A and B exchange parting insults (“Put some ice on that, b*tch!” “See if you can catch me, old man!”); Cyclist B rides off and we take off after him.

    The kicker: They were fighting about Cyclist B’s riding through stop signs and Cyclist A’s chastising him for it. They yelled “Red means stop!” and “I stopped at every f*ing stop sign!” “You did not!” etc. Both were well over 30 years old.

  4. A strange tandem. The front seat was a recumbent holding a little kid with very short legs. The back was what I assume to be the kid’s dad. This contraption (pictures of similar bikes here and here) pulled a trailer with another kid inside. Mom (I assume) followed on a battered mountain bike and she didn’t seem to feel the need to put her hands on the handlebars.

Here’s a map of where these strange things happened.

View Strange Signs on the Burke in a larger map

After all the excitement near the UW, I gratefully rode the rest of the way home with only the usual level of excitement. I found out that Mark works for Cray Computers, and that he ran a program on their fastest computer yet, but that’s really small beans compared to everything else.
Testing the Air
This afternoon Carmel went outside and stood very still for quite a long time, quite intently sniffing the breeze. She seemed a bit disturbed.

Floppy Dog
Right after the air-sniffing moment, Carmel came in, gnawed on a marrow bone for a little while, and then adopted the lazy Sphinx pose. I’ve never seen her lay like that before.

Apparently I also missed an exciting day in Pioneer Square yesterday, between President Obama’s whirlwind visit and the clueless private pilot’s inadvertently invading Air Force 1 airspace and causing the scrambling of 2 supersonic fighter jets.

Out of Context

Day’s Verse:
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.”
Acts 1:7 (context)

Back when I converted my Specialized Hard Rock into an Xtracycle, I posted a picture on Flickr of my solution to the super-long-chain sagging issue. This is the picture:

TerraCycle Idler for an Xtracycle

At the time, I received a number of questions from other Xtracycle riders asking what that thing was and where to get one (it’s an idler, by the way, custom made by TerraCycle in Portland, and it’s the single most expensive part on my Specialized). One of the people who asked about this was a guy named Matthew, who lived in Tacoma, wrote a blog called Tacoma Bike Ranch, and rode his Xtracycle on the 3-day, 3-mountain-pass-surmounting Courage Classic. Pretty unique guy.

Last week, I did a tabling event in Tacoma. By chance I encountered a guy also tabling there, representing the Harmon Bike Club and touting the Courage Classic. He rode up on an Xtracycle and his name tag read, “Matt.” It took me most of the evening to realize that this was the same Matthew with whom I had exchanged emails over a year ago when I still lived in Massachusetts. When I told him that, he exclaimed, “My world just got a lot smaller!”

If his world just got smaller, mine’s shrinking too rapidly to measure, because this has happened a few more times since that encounter: First, I was riding the Sound Transit 550 Express from Seattle to the Bellevue Transit Center yesterday afternoon and the bus driver looked incredibly familiar. Finally, after staring (fairly obviously, as it turns out) and wracking my brains, it came to me. He had volunteered at the Bicycle Alliance Volunteer Work Party the previous Thursday, and much of the volunteers’ discussion had centered around his experience as a Metro bus driver. I’d sat and chatted with the volunteers for long enough to remember his face, but (alas) not his name. Just before my stop, I walked up to the front of the bus and said, “Were you at the Bike Alliance Volunteer Work Party last week?” and sure enough, yep. We had a nice little conversation before I got off.

Then, today a third random encounter — this time very brief — occurred on the bike trail. I was riding home on the Burke-Gilman Trail as usual, and as I came up on the turn you take to go to the Cascade Bike Club offices, an approaching cyclist caught my eye. She wore a long, pale blue-green pea coat (if pea coats can be pale blue-green; they may by definition be black. I’m not sure. I never wore one) and it had long tails that flew out to the sides as she rode along. It was quite eye-catching. As I passed, I glanced at her face and thought she looked familiar — a feeling I’m getting comfortable with, as you can imagine. A second later I realized she was Robin Randels, the Cascade Bike Club Classes Coordinator who had organized and assisted at the LCI Seminar that I assistant taught at a couple weeks ago. I shouted, “Robin!” and she shouted something else that clearly indicated I was right and she had (probably) recognized me, and I shouted “Hey!” That’s about the extent of the conversation you can have when two people are traveling at 15+ mph in opposite directions.

On a slightly different but similar vein, I met an AmeriCorps intern at Transportation Advocacy Day in Olympia back in January. She’s interning at the Cascade Bike Club, but not through the Northwest Service Academy. Anyway, we got to talking, and it turns out that she’s really good friends with Jon, one of the AmeriCorps interns in my group/pod/whatever. Another “small world” connection.

I’m just waiting to see what happens next. Who else will I meet and recognize out of context? It could be anybody!