About 100 years ago, I lived in Grand Junction, Colorado for a time. It was actually one of the best times of my life and I was so spiritually, visually, and mentally moved by the West that I decided that I’d marry the hunky weatherman, buy a ranch with him, raise horses, cows, and chickens and then have kids, oh, and a few dogs roaming around too. I had it all planned out.
While living out there, I took up mountain biking and in addition to being a killer workout, you’d get to see some of the most beautiful scenery there was. One of my favorite biking trips was to the Arches National Park in Utah. Talk about God’s country.
Before I started mt. biking, I had cycled on my ten-speed bike for exercise here and there. Mt. biking, though, was my cup of tea and I ended up sticking with it for quite some time, even after moving away from my Colorado dreams and back to Alabama.
I had several near death experiences in those Utah and Colorado mountains. I had another biker collide with me nearly knocking me off of the mountain one time and had a raccoon scurry in front of me scaring me to death and over-breaking, nearly falling down the mountain again. I’ll stop there, don’t want to scare my Ma too much.
Anyway, I’m 45 years young now and my mt. biking days are over because my joints just can’t take it anymore and I don’t have time to die, really. So, I purchased another less cool bike a few months back because we have this fantastic paved trail right off of my neighborhood and since I’m Weight Watchering it for life, I decided I’d ride again because I love the feeling of it, it’s good exercise, it gets me outside, which is my favorite place, and it’d be tamer compared to mt. biking . . . hah!!
Now, I love people, all kinds of people. I love the tall ones, short ones, foreign ones, clueless ones, skinny ones, hearty ones, etc. But every once in awhile one of these “ones” will inadvertently try to kill me while innocently cycling on my beloved paved trail running along a lovely creek and then eventually connecting to the Tennessee River, where I love to sit and gaze at the murky water and wonder what horrors might lie below.
Well, the other day my near-death experience nearly got me cut to shreds as this giant grass cutting tractor comes barreling down the paved trail. From my vantage point, I felt as if the dude had seen me and would eventually move off to the side so I wouldn’t get shredded, but no, they must have had a blind grass cutter on the job because the next thing I know, I have to scream and scream loud enough to be heard over the roar of the engine as I violently veer off to the side and nearly land in the creek where the jagged rocks are. I was so pissed, scared to death, and flabbergasted that I didn’t even stick around to hear apologies from the blind man, I just didn’t have it in me.
If that wasn’t enough on this particular day, on the way back home, still feeling the rapid beating of my heart, a runner in front of me suddenly became drunk and staggered sideways towards me right as I was about to pass him. I literally stuck my foot out and booted him back to his side as he sobered up suddenly and waved an apology. Thank God I have good balance on a bike or this one might have gotten me a compound fracture in my leg and come to think of it, I just booted a stranger out of the way with my foot, glad he didn’t kick my ass in retaliation.
Last week, my ride to the river what shockingly uneventful barring the swarm of creek flies that I ended up getting in my eyes and about 12 in my mouth. As I’m passing through the picnic area I got this eery feeling as I drive by this parked car that I’ve seen there before and I’ll be damned if the same dude is in there just staring at me like he wants to rape me, choke me out, and dismember me for a picnic BBQ later that evening. I really need to ask the folks at the dock house what in the hell his deal is. I see him nearly every time now and it scares the hell outta me but lately, the river and the docks are so heavily populated because the weather has been perfect, so I’m not too worried unless he’s got a gun, then there may be some trouble.
I ride up the hill that will lead me to the bench that I sit on and do some meditating before heading back and as I crest the hill and smile because I’ve made it, there sitting on my bench is one of those shirtless dudes that loves his body, works out constantly, loves mirrors and frequents them about 247 1/2 times per day, and wants everyone to look at him too. Well, not this chick, I can’t stand dudes like this. I ride past him without one look and I can feel him staring at the back of my person probably thinking that I’m a lesbian because why else would I not have looked at him as I make my way to my second choice of murky water observation seating and I’m just as happy.
I sit on top of the picnic table, sit criss-cross applesauce, close my eyes, and start my breathing exercises. I’ve been at it for about 2 minutes when I hear this, “Well, would you look at you.” I open my eyes to two little old people each walking a dog looking at me like I had died sitting on top of the picnic table. Now the death part almost came because they gave me a freaking heart attack as I was trying to breathe and center.
I explained to the geriatric Americans that I was simply breathing and calming myself. They were dumbfounded at this so I had to give a small dissertation on what it was that I was doing in old people terms and seeming satisfied that I was a crazy person, they both moved on shaking their heads and peering back at me a few more times.
So, heading back after a near heart attack situation, I come upon a line of rapidly Spanish-speaking women. . . The 4 Amigas. They have blocked any hope or prayer of passing them as I had to slow down to try and figure out how to get around them without impaling myself with a tree branch. I finally said, “Hola, hola!” They all turn around and begin speaking to me in rapid Spanish. Now, I only know a very small amount of Spanish so this is what I say back, “Me gusta pass-o on la bike-o.” They all laugh hysterically at me and one of them says, “We will let you pass,” in perfect English. Sigh.
Well, my bike ride yesterday was . . . well, I don’t even know a word for it. Starting out on the trail, things are going good, The 4 Amigas aren’t there, the fighting Asian sisters aren’t there fighting in the middle of the trail, the clueless family who has no idea where they are in space and fill the entire trail thus blocking everyone, aren’t there, and praise the Lord the blind grass cutter isn’t either. All was not well, however . . .
I soon came up on a threesome riding their individual bikes and I could hear they were speaking some sort of Chinese. They are spread out across the road and I’d get off the path but it was too muddy and I’d get stuck for sure. So I gently yell, “Hi there, I need to pass on your left.” One of the rider ladies says, “Oh, don’t pass there, she a new bike rider and she will fall. Go down the middle, we make way for you.” I think, okay, that will work. Well, not exactly . . .
As I’m passing up the middle, the “new” rider becomes drunk followed by an immediate panic attack and she starts veering all over the place like her arms were going into spasms, I sped up so I wouldn’t get caught up in the vortex of confusion and end up dead from the panicked drunk biker and I had just about made it too when she clipped my back tire before running into a fence along the trail. I stopped to make sure she was okay, along with her riding companions, and I’m pretty sure I was cussed out in Chinese, though I didn’t do a thing. Damn new bike rider drunk spastic lady!
People are so funny, y’all and just loads of entertainment.
If you ever want a good dose of people watching, perhaps losing your life, or learning a new language, as there are a lot spoken on that trail, get yourself out on a neighborhood nature trail. It’s a load of laughs and treachery.