The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.
Lately I’ve been thinking about perspectives.
Driving to work on Friday (hey, legs need a rest some time!) through the rain, I thought, “It sure is raining hard.” But when I stepped into the rain, it didn’t seem so bad at all—hardly dripping.
Riding into the wind, I often think, “Sheesh, this wind is enough to take roofs off!” Then I stop at a light and hardly a breeze ruffles my jacket.
Sitting in the blazing sun on a hot July day, I’ve often thought that the heat on the road could cook eggs. But if I move into the leaf-rustling shade of a nice big tree, I decide the heat isn’t so great after all.
On winter days, coworkers often comment, “Katie, you must be freezing when you ride!” But I often get off my bike soaked in sweat, especially in January, when many layers of clothing insulate me from evaporative breezes. My coworkers perceive a 15-degree day as frigid, worth of an Arctic-level insulation, where I see a day worth an extra layer, but no more (not that I don’t think 15 degrees is cold—it certainly is. But we perceive disparate levels of coldness).
It’s all about perspective. Driving into raindrops, pushing through wind, or standing in direct sunlight all are legitimate ways of experiencing weather. Yet another person, experiencing the same weather from a different perspective—by walking, standing still, or sitting in a different location—might come away with a completely different weather experience.
I’ve been thinking about this, too, because one of my coworkers—let’s call him X—perceives personal attacks where nobody intends them*. For instance, one day, his hair was slightly mussed after he finished working on a particularly arduous report (much in the same way that Captain Kirk’s uniform would come unbuttoned to indicate what a hazardous situation it was). Another coworker, Y, comes by and says, “Hey, X, your hair’s messed up. Must be a really hard report.” After a little banter, Y left and we all went back to work.
The next day, X came in with nearly all his hair buzz-cut, excepting only the inches-tall top. He explained the cut to a friend of his thus: “Y was making fun of my hair. He said it was messed up.”
Perspective. Next time you think you know something, ask, “Is there some other view I’m missing?” After all, the sun has already set to a toddler when it’s still above the horizon for an adult.
*I have, on occasion, been sorely tempted to personally attack him, possibly with physical force. He has plenty of irritating habits, the most noticeable of which is to be in conversation with somebody else, and when a 3rd Person walks by, to loudly say, “Not like 3rd Person,” who, hearing her name, says “What?” only to be teased more by X. He does this to everybody who walks by, and sometimes to me and our other coworker, just to distract us.
X, by interesting coincidence, tends to razz people more than anybody else I have ever met, and occasionally his razzing hits me on a bad day. One day, for example, I was hurrying to ship a report under a deadline and the printer jammed as my CD label went through, creating a horrific mess to sort out. As I knelt next to the printer, attempting to extract the label half stuck onto dangerously hot printer parts, X came by and said, “What, breaking the printer again? My labels never jam. I do them perfectly every time.” In that instant I opened my mouth, literally on the verge of verbally ripping his heart out and stuffing it up his nose. Let me tell you, it was a close thing that he came out of that encounter alive, let alone still a functioning man. So it’s particularly funny that he takes comments of that type directed at him extremely personally.
This ride marks my first-ever 50+ mile ride. I intended to just hit 50 miles, but it ended up 59, thanks to the fact that I couldn’t ride to within three miles of Rhode Island without actually going into it. It was too tempting to add the “Ridden in Two States on One Ride” notch to my belt at the same time as the “>50 Mile Ride” notch. So I rode to the romantically-named Woonsocket, passed the “Welcome to Woonsocket, Rhode Island” sign, turned around and rode home.
If you say that riding in another state for less than 1 minute doesn’t count, I invite you to ride 30 miles to get there, then ride another 29 home again. It sure as heck does count!
The weather proved delightfully cooperative today. I feared rain, since we woke up to rain and the weather predicted 30% chance of rain all day, but by the time I left at 2:00, not only had the rain stopped but the roads had started drying out. On top of that, the temperature soared to a balmy 45°. Taking a risk, I wore only my neon visibility vest (also water-repellent, although the entire back is gray venting that looks about as waterproof as a bath towel) with light long pants and my warmer long-sleeved shirt. At first I started out cold, but after a few miles my clothing choice paid off. By the end of my ride, some four hours after I started, the sun had come out and the clouds were dissipating. I felt positively warm a few times riding uphill in the sun, despite a steady 5- to 10-mile-an-hour headwind on the way back.
The first ten miles of my ride I wandered, just trying to trend generally southwards. My map actually misses a mile or so I rode into Ashland; I made it to the Ashland commuter rail stop before deciding not to go more eastwards. When I popped out on Thomas Street, I recognized it from a previous long ride. Eventually I found myself in downtown Hopkinton and decided to take the opportunity to head almost due south on Route 85. I kept heading south pretty consistently, just following road signs towards Rhode Island, until finally I got into an ugly town called Blackstone. In the middle of Blackstone, the town changed to Woonsocket, RI, marking the end of my out-and-back trip. I turned around, intending to retrace my steps and take Route 85 all the way home.
But of course before I hit 85, I got distracted. That’s one of the great things about these rides: I don’t have a destination, so long as I get the miles in. I make decisions completely on a whim most of the time—“This road looks like it might go somewhere”—and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I think I’ll know most of the secondary roads around here really well by the time I’m done training.
Anyway, I happened to be sitting in traffic in Milford when I saw a sign: BIKE ROUTE. An arrow pointed to the left. I looked left and beheld a nice granite post engraved UPPER CHARLES TRAIL, with inviting, smooth, car-free blacktop stretching away into the inviting distance. (This part of my ride isn’t on the map above because I could not find even a hint of it on Google maps. I just approximated it as following Route 85.)
I took it, of course. It went north, in a winding sort of way, and I immediately fell in love with its perfect smooth black surface. I relaxed and swore that even if it popped me out in Worcester I wouldn’t regret riding on this
lovely trail. Too few miles later it ended, not in Worcester but at the intersection of Route 85 and 495, having neatly skirted most of the nasty downtown Milford area. My only complaint was that it popped me out on the wrong side of the road at a very dangerous intersection that had no cross-walks or safe crossing places. It was almost like they expected people to keep riding on the wrong side of the road—clearly crazy talk.
I rode home on Route 85, zipping down the ginormous hill I had ridden up a few weeks ago. When I reached the Southborough commuter rail station, 52 miles into the ride, I thought I’d call Ian to whisk me the remaining six or so miles home. Unfortunately, my mom was being sociable, and Ian was still on the phone when I arrived home tired and not too excited about having ridden an extra nine miles.
The only other comment I have is that I had some serious trouble shifting on my front chain ring; by serious I mean, shifting down from the big ring, the my brand-new chain literally got lodged in the gears, my pedals stopped turning, and I had to make an emergency stop to manually unstick the chain from the gears. On the way out I happened past the Milford Bike Shop, so I stopped in and asked them about it. They said there’s a 99% chance that I need to replace the front chainring, also not surprising—I have 3,200 miles on the front and rear gears, and the guy at Frank’s Spoke ‘n’ Wheel said I’d need to replace some gears when I got a new chain. Well, now I’ve got the new chain, and sure enough, it doesn’t work very well with the old gears. POO! I already spent $400 on cleaning Davey up, but clearly the shifting situation won’t get better on its own. Again I say POO!
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