Anybody remember this song?
I have put in quite a few miles on my bike on the trail this week. It occurred to me that, remarkably, I was not feeling bored in spite of the repetitive nature of the rides. I remembered a blog I had read from a webpage tracking a couple’s hike on the Pacific Crescent Trail. This particular posting was a guest blog by somebody who was traveling with them for a short stretch. He talks about what the experience of hiking means for him. I could empathize with some of what he was saying – about the silence and the thinking that goes on. You can cover a lot of ground, both physically and mentally, without even being aware of it.
A couple of days back I was cruising in the cool of the early morning, lost in my own thoughts, on a section of the trail near Carderock. Between the mind games and the focus on the act of riding (something that has become more automatic these days) I was having a ball. I was brought back to reality by the sight, out of the corner of my eye, of two older gentlemen who were walking in the other direction. When you are riding a bike at a decent pace people pass by quickly, but I did notice that one of the guys was smiling broadly, looking at me, and giving me a thumbs-up sign with both his hands. He was encouraging me on. I had to smile back. Or maybe I was smiling already, and this was his response. Did I look like I was on a mission and needed encouragement? Or was he simply happy to wish somebody on the trail. It does not matter. He had reached me somehow and raised my spirits even further. Everything was good!
With the distances I am covering, and with the coming of summer, I am seeing kids everywhere on the trail. There are summer camps and outings, with bike rides, horse rides, boating (tubing/canoeing), fishing, swimming, and other kinds of activities to keep the young ones occupied. It is great that the natural resources of the area are being taken advantage of so that kids learn about the great outdoors all around rather than getting stuck indoors staring at the screen of some electronic device the whole day.
But with kids on the trail there is an additional element of caution that is required, especially if one is cruising on a cycle. Sometimes they seem to be completely oblivious to what is going on around them. Last week I was passing a group of kids and everybody moved out of my way except for one lad who basically got on his bike a started riding straight towards me on the wrong side of the trail. I had to yell and brake hard. He finally moved away at the last minute. Who knows where he mind was at.
Then there was this group of kids on bikes who rode off the trail at Whites Ferry while I was trying to get on to it. They did not know enough to even get out of my way. I had to stop and let most of them get through first. Their adult leader apologized once he got them going properly.
A couple of days ago I rode up behind a group of adults and kids on horses. While most of the horses were well behaved and were keeping to one side of the trail, a couple of them were not cooperating at the back of the line. They were wandering all over the trail, standing across it to look at me (maybe they were curious) while their riders were trying to talk them into getting back into line. At one point one of the riders thought that the horses wanted to get in line on the other side of the trail (the wrong side), but that was obviously not their intention. The horses finally cooperated and I was able to pass on the left. On my way back on the trail, as I approached the same group and started passing them from the front, the little kids on the horses started shouting to me. They told me that the last two horses in line were in training and that I should be careful. The kids seemed quite concerned about my safety and they were so sweet about it. I yelled my thanks without slowing down too much. The kids are alright!
During the last couple of days I have run into more issues with people, both adults and kids, on the trail who do not seem to know what to do when a biker comes by. Sometimes people are not keeping to their side of the trail and they get very confused when a biker comes up behind them. I announce myself loudly so that people can move aside, and if at least one person in the group hears me I am usually in good shape. But sometimes somebody darts across the trail into my way at the last minute and I have to brake hard and yell. Just yesterday, a kid almost ran me off the cliff near Anglers Inn. He apologized while I tried to recover my composure.
But I want to come back to the thought I started this blog with, which is that it does not matter how many times you go over the same territory when hiking or biking. The experience simply does not get old. Just yesterday I was riding past a section of the trail that always catches my attention in the early morning light. As I have done several times in the past, I stopped once again to take a picture. Perhaps you have seen this picture before.
Then there are these other experiences from the ride.
And, yes, it is hot as heck outside right now. The folks in the picture below have more determination than I do!
We will see what the next week of riding brings.