after the move, i went back to belmont, where i threw my bianchi bike into the back of the explorer and drove to julie's place in somerville, for some biking action along the minuteman bike trail. going down route 16 i saw the familiar flower truck that's usually parked by the foodmaster. a sequence of thoughts ran through my mind: those flowers are pretty, hey it's julie's birthday today, i'm going to make a good impression by not arriving empty-handed like i usually do. i made an abrupt turn and drove the wrong way into the exit to the foodmaster parking lot so i could get some flowers. i ended up going with a clutch of beefy sunflowers. at julie's place i saw her cat for the very first time. i was telling her that she was actually making up her cat stories, that she doesn't really own a cat since i've never seen it, until she pulled her out from underneath the bed. her cat, a little bit afraid of strangers, quickly ran away.
after pumping up my flat rear tire - the same exact one that i replaced the tubing a few weeks ago - we headed out to arlington for the trail at about 4pm. on the way there we passed a sofa set (green loveseat and a single) sitting out on the sidewalk that we made a mental note to maybe come back and take home for ourselves. after a little ways on the minuteman bike path, i realized my back tire was flat again. a man walking by told us that there was a bike shop nearby, that i could take it in for repairs. after pumping it up a second time, it went flat again, so while i walked the bike, julie rode on ahead to make sure that the bike shop was really there. quad cycles on mass ave located in arlington heights, they replaced the tubing once more ($10). after a few minutes of waiting, we were back on the trail, my bike as good as new. at the store, i got a real sense of the bicycling community. anyone can bike, young and old, men and women, rich and poor. there isn't too much skills involved, you just have to know how to ride one and actually have a bike to ride on. you don't need to get a license, heck, you don't even need to wear a helmet if you don't want to (unless you're a kid). i keep on trying to draw parallels between bicycling and motorcycling. they say that motorcycles are easy to maintain and fix because they have less parts than cars, but bicycles are even easier. bicycling is also good for you because you get a lot of exercise, even if you can't go as fast as a motorcycle (you get zero exercise on a motorcycle, have you ever seen how fat some of those bikers get?). bear in mind that my leg is all weird, probably damaged it from my last run a few weeks back. i was afraid i wouldn't be able to bike, that i'd be in constant pain, but that didn't turn out to be the case, my ride was very pleasant and effortless (although tiring from all that peddling). now that my right leg seems to be shot to hell, i think i'm going to switch to biking to get my fill of summer exercise. back to the bicycling community: bicyclists also seem friendlier, or at least not as intimidating, versus motorcycle bikers. it's really two different worlds, sharing some similarities, but also differences, like i think the bicycling world is more accessible to all people, and a lot less intimidating. still, you can't beat that motorcycle image. bicycling doesn't give me goosebumps like motorcycling does. i'm glad i have a foot in both worlds.
so after my bike got fixed were we finally able to enjoy a leisurely bicycle ride on julie's birthday. that is, until my next mishap. we'll get to that later. the path was pretty empty today, julie and i rode and chatted, usually i'd ride behind her, occasionally we'd ride side by side, once in a while i'd get closer if i missed something she said. every so often we'd see a rollerblader, or another fellow biker, or people strolling, usually pushing a baby carriage. i decided i was going to take some photos, so i rode my bike with one hand while snapping away on the camera with the other hand. nothing too crazy until i got to this one intersection, which in hindsight (as observed by julie) was kind of portentous because there was a sign that read "dangerous intersection," just how dangerous i'd soon find out.
there are two metal poles positioned at the entrance to the next stretch of bike trail, their function apparently to prevent cars from driving on the path. they also serve another function, which is to act as an obstacle for people like me to crash into. what happened was since i was riding with one hand, i couldn't turn my bike in time to avoid the post. i managed to turn enough so i wouldn't smash into it headfirst, but the corner of my right handlebar hit the post full force and i was swung off the bicycle as it suddenly jack-knifed to the ground, throwing me down on the pavement. i tore up my left knee, scraped my left elbow (no blood however), bruised my left shoulder, and had the bands of my watch gouge out red lines on my left wrist. the right handlebar also punched me in the groin (that was perhaps the most painful injury), missing my boys by a meer one inch (i'm going to have a big bruise tomorrow). the miracle was admist all this crashing chaos, i still held on to my camera, firming clutched in my right hand, raised high up in the air to avoid the fray. i didn't care about my body, so as long as my camera wasn't smashed to pieces! it reminded me of those marine training movies where they learn to keep their assault rifle above their heads and out of water at all cost, in order not to damage the rifle. i went down hard, i doubled over groaning, but for some reason i was laughing in pain, maybe realizing the irony of the situation. two women sitting nearby raced to my aid, but i waved them off, told them i was okay. julie, hearing the commotion, turned around to see me tangled in my bike on the ground. after a minute or so, i was able to get up, not in so much pain that i couldn't continue with our journey. julie helped me find my lenscap (which i was holding in my left hand when i hit the post) and put the chains back onto the gears. we took off, and i was very thankful that it wasn't much worse, that i didn't smash up my face, that my camera was fine, and most of all, i was thankful i didn't get my nuts hammered and had to spend a night in the hospital. although after the fall i was in some pain, i kind of bore it as a badge of honor, it's not everyday you fall off a bike and escape with only minor injuries!
when we finally got to the end of the minuteman trail in bedford, we stopped off at the freight house to get some refreshments. $1.25 gets you a cold bottle of gatorade, which julie and i both agreed was pretty cheap (we're too use to the exorbitant city prices). after a brief rest in the warm afternoon sun where we showed each other our cavity fillings, we headed back to arlington.
on the way back, i stopped briefly to take some nature photos. one thing you notice when you ride the minuteman bike trail this time of the year is the loosestrife infestation, covering whole wetland areas in fields of purple (julie remarked how they looked like lavender fields). loosestrife is a non-native invasive plant that's the bane of ecological conservation because it just takes over everything, crowding out native plants. they're beautiful to look at, but to me they're evil. i also saw a few dragonflies, some of then quite large. the only one i got a photo of was a blue dasher resting in the sun.
coming back into lexington center julie and i made a pitstop at the candy castle, a local candy/ice cream shop. when we first got there we saw a little boy drop his ice cream to the floor. we knew we found the right place! julie and i discussed how there should be an age limit as to when you came buy ice cream on a cone versus in a cup. julie had chocolate chips i think, i got the rum raisin. we saw some suburban punks, the kind that's all anti-establishment but after they're done hanging out at the harvard square pit, in their leather and their studs and their boots and crazy hairstyles, they come back to their posh suburban homes and their elitist lives.
we got back on the trail, riding behind a speedy rollerblader who went so fast as to not allow us to pass him. i also continued to take photos, despite my little accident before, although i was more careful this time, making sure to put away my camera anytime i saw metal posts approaching. you have to suffer a little bit for your craft, it makes it all the more real! we left the minuteman trail at arlington center, heading back into somerville. that sofa set we saw earlier was already gone. by the time we got back to julie's, it was close to 8pm. we had probably biked over 20 miles easily, i was tired, i was sweaty, and after an exchange of good byes, i quickly drove home with bike in tow and jumped into the shower to wash my wounds and to get into some clean clothes. i was almost afraid to inspect my groin injury, but i was once more glad to have visual confirmation that i escaped unscathed and that i will still be able to have children if i should ever want them. my subscription to life has been renewed yet again.