03 October 2011

A bike ride, a snake, and a wayside station

On Sunday afternoon, Spouse and I put our respective fitness levels (mine being MUCH higher than his!) to the test: We went for a bike ride out of our town and along the river. By the time we got home, we had ridden 11.5 miles. To those of you who do RAGBRAI, 11.5 miles is nothing. But for us, it is almost impressive!

It really was a perfect day for a bike ride. The leaves were beautiful. Even this view of the muddy and very low river was rather scenic. And Spouse only threatened to abandon me on the trail a handful of times, prompted by my fear of going down hills and over certain bridges.

Other than the photos Spouse took of me with Helmet Hair, the low point of the ride was when I RAN OVER A TEENY TINY GARTER SNAKE coiled at the side of the trail, possibly sleeping or (hopefully) already dead. You see, being relatively inept on my bicycle, I do not have the ability to swerve for snakes or other critters -- or even scratch my nose if it itches while I am riding, such is the Death Grip I hold on my handlebars. So over the snake I rolled, triggering immediate and prolonged screaming which no doubt terrified the small children riding the trail with their grandparents.

I finally calmed down at the point where it was time to turn around and head back home. We stopped at a small pond (a lovely but unnatural blue-green color which made me wonder if it was actually a sewage lagoon) where, tucked in the trees was a very quaint wooden structure which I determined must be a pleasant little wayside station. Actually, from a distance it looked like a giant cuckoo clock.

The closer I got, however, the more worried I became about what might be inside. Plastic plants adorned the outside of the structure, giving me a slightly creepy feeling. I pulled opened the doors, not quite sure what awaited me...

and inside found several small statues and urns of incense. This prompted me to theorize wildly that the structure might be some sort of crematorium, which of course was a ridiculous notion. The ashes around the urns were surely from the incense -- right?

After leaving the wayside station, we headed back down the trail toward home, where I had the opportunity to pass the squished snake again (and confirm that yes, he really was dead). And, even though I had a few terrified moments along the route, as I pulled into our driveway I felt very grateful to live in a place with lovely trails and that my late nights at the Dreaded Fitness Place have enabled me to ride such a distance. Maybe it was a surge of exercise-induced endorphins, but I even felt a little bit sorry for that snake and wondered, briefly, if I should go back and push him off into the grass for a proper ending to his short and slithery life.

No comments: