Adventures with bicycles

Where to begin… we missed out on biking the last two days so I thought it would be fun to go downtown on a Saturday morning and ride the lovely Buffalo Bayou trail, or around the downtown area. I was under the mistaken impression that parking was free (just Sundays and nights, oops) and there would be little traffic. Not as bad as a weekday, but more than I’d anticipated. I think I’ll stick with nights or Sundays in the future.

My bike tire was low again, which, combined with the sinus infection I’m trying to get over and working all night before hand, made this a bit more challenging ride for me. II asked Aaron to lead, even though I know downtown better, I’m a better follower than leader. But I chickened out at a few places he headed (such as straight towards I10), and down busy streets with no sidewalk or shoulder. And some of the terrain Aaron and his mountain bike were enjoying made me cringe a little with flashbacks of my crash a month or so ago which my knees are still healing from). Gravel, soft dirt and wet surfaces make me nervous now.


But we it’s never boring when he’s leading. We rode through the downtown Aquarium, much to the dismay of the security people, who helpfully guided us back onto the trail. Then took the trail all the way to the back of Glenwood Cemetery, which we’d been wanting to ride through and is one of my favorite spots in the city, along Sawyer (past the former Greater Harris County 9-1-1 headquarters) and down Washington. Glenwood is a lovely place to bike, and of course the first place Aaron went right for was a construction area that connected Glenwood and the old Washington Cemetery. I followed the torn up dirt road with some trepidation, but made it through unscathed.

View from the hill looking down on Glenwood View from the hill looking down on Glenwood

We rode through the old section till we came to the back, where there was a large section being cleared for new construction, and Aaron shot right into it with his dirt bike, and I called ‘you have fun, i”ll wait here’, because it didn’t look like that big of an area and it looked like nothing but sand and dirt. I rode over to the edge of the cemetery and got a lovely view of Glenwood from the top of the hill and parked there waiting for Aaron to come out of the woods. After about 5 or 10 minutes I walked back over to the entrance to the construction, thinking he had missed me, and didn’t see anyone. Then my phone rang and he had ridden all the way through the woods down into Glenwood, directly below where I had just been.

The back of Howard Hughes family gravesite The back of Howard Hughes family gravesite

So we rode around a bit more until ‘the mishap’. Aaron stopped to read a historical marked and when he turned to leave his bike shoes tripped him up and he went right over onto the concrete. Sprained his wrist, bumped his elbow into an old rib injury and declared he wanted to leave now. Which was fine with me because it was hours past my bedtime,

When we got back downtown, we ended up on opposite sides of the street due to my trying to keep up but not wanting to cross over traffic. We were getting close to where we parked and he looked back at me and I pointed to go one block down and then of course I lost him (again). I wasn’t sure if he knew how to get back to the car, but of course he had beat me and already had his bike on the rack. I was getting tired so he offered to drive, which turned out to be a life saver for both of us.

Because it was the weekend I told him to just go out San Jacinto and get on I10 and take the 59 ramp, which is a difficult way to go because of all the lane changes, but it’s a straight shot out of downtown. I used to go that way every day until I realized it’s nicer just to go down Milam and avoid the weekday psychotic multi freeway interchange (four freeways in about 4 miles). We passed George Brown and were going starting down into the canyon before the 288 split when Aaron suddenly started slowing down in the middle of the freeway then swearing. He had seen, in slow motion, his multi thousand dollar bicycle come loose from the rack, saw the wheel tip up into the air and the bike flying off the rack into the middle of the freeway. At this point I was really glad he was driving.

Still swearing, he pulled over into the shoulder and started backing up towards the bike, while we both watched in horror out the back window as the heavy, fast moving traffic cleared the top of the hill and descended towards his bike, laying in the second lane. He pulled up so close I couldn’t get out, and leapt out of the car into traffic and ran back along the shoulder towards the bike. Amazingly the cars all managed to miss his bike, and not hit each other of me in the process, including an 18 wheeler that was in the third lane which had to brake to avoid hitting another car. Meanwhile, I’m fishing my phone out of my waist pack, knowing HPD couldn’t get there in time to help with the traffic control, but wondering it I was going to need to call an ambulance. Stuck in the car, I knelt on the seat backwards watching as he got to shoulder near the bike, thinking about the injury he had just suffered, and watching four lanes of cars all swerving at the same time and holding my breath.

He saw an opening and leapt across two lanes of traffic, while more cars were cresting the hill a hundred feet from him, grabbed the bike and dragged it back to the shoulder and I could breathe again. After catching his breath, he rolled the bike back down the shoulder. It has survived unscathed except a few scratches. One of the wheel straps on my rack had broken and that’s all it had taken for it to fly off. He fastened it back down the best he could and we had a tense drive back, discussing the evils of marketing and how everything is made to break. Strangely my sore throat immediately developed into laryngitis as soon as he made it back to the car and I have barely been able to utter a word since. When we got back, I finally fell apart, took an ambien and a few lorazepam and went to sleep…

And that was our exciting day. And this is one of the reasons I like riding at night with no traffic, no people, no sun and free parking almost anywhere. But that’s just my preference. I don’t see how riding at night in a well lit area with headlights (and perhaps a gun) could possibly be any more dangerous…

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