As of this writing, I’ve been off work for a few days, getting a feel for life after the job. It’s a good feeling. One day I spent several hours knitting and listening to an audio book (normally that’s my bliss, but the novel–Last Rituals by Icelandic author Yrsa Sigurdardottir–was so full of cliches I could only listen to it if I was distracted by something else like knitting or housecleaning).
But the first day of my long weekend was spent with my husband, on a bike ride at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. A bike ride that almost didn’t happen. It started off nicely enough.
First, just before we left, I took a photo of the trees from beyond the roof of my house. See all that blue sky? After a few cold gray days, the blue was a balm to the soul.
At St. Marks, the blue sky and green pines and palms soothe my color-starved eyes. We hopped on our bikes and started cruising down Tram Road. My husband had found an old pair of panniers to attach to my bike so I was a happy cyclist, toting my own lunch, hot tea, and wool sweater instead of cramming everything onto his bike. I like to be independent when I can.
I was soaking up the blues and greens when I heard a soft chafing sound. Must be the panniers, I thought. My speed slowed as if I were going uphill. Only I wasn’t going uphill. The sound got louder. I came to a stop at the same time that I recognized the sensation of something being dragged. I bent over and looked at my rear wheel. It was not only flat. Its guts were hanging out of it.
I called to Greg and in a few minutes he had my bike upside down and the rear wheel off. The tire had come off the rim, and the tube had somehow twisted back on itself. He was perplexed and not confident that he could fix it. “I think we need to call it a day,” he said.
“NOOOOOOO!,” I responded.
We had riden less than one mile. I had been enjoying myself for less than nine minutes. The thought of turning around and going home seemed unbearable.
For the next 30-45 minutes, I watched my husband first pull out a new tube that he happened to have in his pack, pump it full of air, and fit it and the tire back on the rear wheel. Then I watched him examine the old tube, pump it full of air, search for leaks, and apply two patches. He said we still have to have a spare, even if it is patched.
My husband is a cyclist. He’s ridden centuries (100 miles) in California, taken weeks-long biking trips, and generally rides one of his two bikes a few times a week. While I watched him work, he told me about how he once had a Peugeot bike with sewn-up tires. It was during his early Navy days in San Francisco. Every time he rode that bike, it got a flat. After a few times of sewing the tires back on, he started carrying a spare set of tires to spare him the agony of sewing.
A guy like that is going to be prepared but also open to taking chances. After his work was done, I asked if we really had to call it a day. He gave me a smile and said, if I was willing, we could go ahead. Worst thing would be I’d have to walk back.
Here are a couple of scenes from the trail.
You might remember our last ride to the Pinhook River (6 + 4 Weeks: Holiday Relief and Bad Cats #Nature #corneredcats). Our timing on this trip was roughly the same as the last. By mid- to late afternoon, we’re at the river. The sun is sinking and casting light in weird and mysterious ways.
For the first time, I notice the colors of the river’s bridge. Maybe it’s the sunlight playing tricks with me. Maybe it’s whatever chemicals were applied to help preserve the wood. Still, I was entranced by these lines and colors.
Eventually we headed back to the car, pedaling steadily, Greg asking about my rear wheel every so often. It was holding up just fine.
About halfway, I stopped to take this photo, shot in “pano” mode.
It looks otherworldly to me, the blues and greens so lush and vibrant. At St. Marks, I always feel that I’m stepping into another world.
And then there’s home.
By the time we get home, the light has faded. Those trees lit by the sun in my first photo are now sliding into shadow.
Raji update: We’ve been letting him into the house interior, trying to familiarize him with the layout and the other cats. Maxine ignores him for the most part. Wendy runs away, and Junior tries to stand his ground, but only if he’s awake and not in a primo sunny spot on the couch. Sometimes Raji acts like he’s right at home.
On this particular afternoon, Junior and Maxine could not be bothered.
Thanks for reading, friends! Stay well, healthy, happy as you can be, and doubly safe (as folks are saying around here, “Don’t go downtown!”).
The day after our bike ride, Greg went to take the bikes off the car and found that my bike’s front tire was flat. Then he went inside and bought me new tires.
Camellia from a neighbor’s yard. It was the one perfect bloom in a large bush. Photo is edited.
Marie A Bailey
Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.