The Return of the Mule

It’s been hanging there in the shed for weeks and weeks. New chain, new cassette, new brake pads. 32,300 miles on the odometer. Waiting to make the long march to 33,000. Today it began.

I rolled the Mule out of the shed and headed to work on yet another unseasonably cold morning. It was 46 degrees when I left the house. Everything about the Mule felt unusual. The saddle, a Brooks Champion, seems to be more like a sling. I should probably replace it, but it fits my butt like the pocket of a outfielder’s glove fits a baseball. The brake hoods felt too far away. The brakes, despite new pads, are mushy. Despite all this, it seemed to take off with little effort on my part.

A mile from the house, in a quiet suburban neighborhood, the Mule and I were buzzed by a minivan. There was no reason for the driver to come so close (not that there ever is a legitimate one). There was no one else on the road, no parked cars either. Still the van came within a foot of my left side. I doubt the driver even saw me.

The Mule made its way down to the Mount Vernon Trail. The Potomac River was running high and spilled across the trail near Dyke Marsh. I picked my feet up and glided through like a little kid. Whee.

No goslings yet. Lots and lots of mallards and Canada geese, though. We’ll have mallards and ducklings soon enough. I didn’t see any raptors or egrets either. I suppose they move with the shallow water.

In Old Town, the base of King Street near the river was flooded. This must happen a dozen times per year. You’d think they’d build a levee or something.  I wonder if you could sit outside the Starbucks on the corner and fish. I’ll have a Grande Frankenfish and a Venti Americano.

Old Town Flooding

By the time I made it to work, I was feeling cramped on the Mule. My hands had gradually moved forward onto  the brake hoods as my back loosened up. My left knee was complaining. (This always happens when I go from one bike to another. My feet don’t like Big Nellie. My right knee and my back don’t like Little Nellie. My left knee doesn’t like the Mule.) The pain will subside after I ride the Mule for a few more days.

I made it through the Rosslyn Circle of Death without incident. I learned later in the day that another cyclists wasn’t so fortunate. How many medivacs does it take before something changes?

It was much warmer for the ride home but I had a strong, gusting headwind and incredible amounts of pollen to contend with. After the Memorial Bridge, I came upon a photoshoot of some sort. There were reflecting umbrellas on stands, one on each side of the trail. Some young women were holding on to bikes. One of the bikes looked like a little like a bikeshare bike. There was so much activity on the trail I don’t know how they were going to get any pictures taken. I didn’t stick around to find out. A minute later I saw Bob (Don’t Call Me Rachel) Cannon riding in a short line of cyclists. He was my only regular of the day.

Photo Shoot

The rest of the ride home was a slog. As soon as I’d get any speed at all, a gust of wind would take it away. There was no sign of flooding in Old Town but the river was still very high. The water came right up to the underside of the Dyke Marsh boardwalk. Once past that, I had some tree cover and the headwinds were lessened. It’s incredible how much some foliage does to slow the wind down. I stopped at the drug store to pick up a prescription and bought some eye drops to get the pollen out of my eyes.

I was planning on driving to work tomorrow so that I could attend my daughter’s lacrosse game. Over dinner she told me that the game is canceled. Many of the players on her team are sick, I would imagine from allergies. So I ride again tomorrow.

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