Monday, September 10, 2012

Road Apples: The Curious Hazards of Utility Cycling

When I was making my way to church a couple of weeks ago, I found these rather surprising obstacles in my path...literal "road apples."

Hitting one of these head-on would be unlikely to knock me off my bike, but it could have, so I moved to avoid them. Bikes with enormously wide tires would probably just make some road-kill applesauce. One has to keep one's eye's peeled, indeed (pun intended).

  This brief encounter of the fruity kind made me think about all of the odd things one spots in the road while cycling. Aside from the unsavory and sometimes very sad carnage of various critters hit on our roads, there is the glass, the bolts, the squashed batteries, and assorted bits of detritus from garbage cans that fall out on collection day. Sometimes, items in the road record auto accidents (flare residue, or a large swath of red tail light plastic). At other times there are accidents waiting to happen: the storm drains which seem to be about six inches below grade, waiting to bend a rim when hit.  Then there are the minor tragedies of childhood: I'm watching a large purple lollipop in a bike lane near church gradually sublimate in the summer sun (does sugar do that? maybe it's just ants  disassembling it). Somebody must have been momentarily unhappy about that!

You never can tell what you will find between visits by the street sweeper. I've picked up a number of damaged but usable tools and bungee cords over the years. Yesterday there was a seemingly brand-new child's sandal lying forlorn in the midst of Breyman street. Lots of mittens seem to get lost each winter. Occasionally, I stop and prop them up on something, hoping they will find the little hands that lost them. I never really liked mittens as a kid. I probably shed some myself. I guess its just part of the cycle of things recorded in chapter one of Ecclesiastes.

Riding a bike allows one to enjoy the environment, it is true. But you still have to keep you eyes open. You never know when a road apple could come your way...

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