Posts Tagged ‘The Panhandle’

Everybody’s Got Their Own Agenda

March 24, 2015

I heard her voice in my head as I shouted at the woman who passed me on the right and pushed me into traffic on the commute into work.

I had already had a few moments of uneasiness on my bicycle.

It rained last night.

Not a lot.

But enough.

The roads were slick this morning and as I was pedaling across Lincoln at 20th my back wheel slipped under me a moment.

I righted and breathed and continued forward, cautious, but aware.

Again the wheel slipped, just a touch, rounding a corner in the Pan Handle.

When it’s just damp enough to cause all the street oil to sluice up to the top of the pavement it feels scarier then when it is a full on down pour.

Slick roads are worse in my estimation than rain.

I thought about the rest of the commute and that I had time.

I always give myself ten minutes more than I need to get to work.

I like to get off my bike, stretch out my shoulders, wiggle out any kinks in my legs and drink some water.

I like to also have caught my breath and had a moment to get centered before entering the fray.

Monday’s especially can be a ruckus, especially after having two days with mom and dad, the charges are not always grateful to see me, despite having fun moments after I arrive.

Upon arrival I often hear a “no!” or “go away!” or the pitter patter of feet running to mom and dad.

That’s ok.

I’m used to it kid.

Sometimes I get the opposite response, but not always.

So, lots of time for me to travel my way cross town.

Monday’s are also a challenge for me as a bicycle commuter.

It is the one day of the week that I go into work early and as such I am in actual commuter traffic.

Not just car commuter and Google Bus commuter, but bicycle commuter, traffic.

I will forget, have forgotten, most other days that there are many, many, many more bicycles on the road then there used to be and also that four days of the week I am riding in to work outside of busy rush hour traffic.

Not so Mondays.

I generally am hitting the end of the rush, but I can get caught in it, or catch up to it, almost always on the Wiggle, sometimes in the Pan Handle if the lights are not in my favor.

I was doing alright after negotiating the Wiggle until I crossed Duboce and hopped onto Sanchez.

As I was crossing over Market headed toward 17th, a rider passed me on the right.

DON’T PASS ON THE RIGHT!

I yelled, startled.

Damn it lady.

You’re forcing me into traffic and riding in my blind spot.

Stupid lady.

I didn’t say bitch.

No.

I was annoyed though and thought about giving her a lecture on being polite to other bicyclists.

I mean, I pass cars all the time on the right, except when they are signaling a right turn, then I go around to the left.

Bicyclists and pedestrians, though, I always pass on the left.

And yes.

I am that annoying person who hollers out, “on your left.”

Sometimes I will whistle sharply if I think a person can’t hear me who may be crossing an intersection while looking at their phone screen.

But most of the time I pass on the left and I let you know that I am there.

It’s something I learned on training rides in 2010 when I rode in the Aids LifeCycle tour from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

I learned a lot on those rides.

How to fix a flat, how to carry momentum to get up a hill, how to ride clipless, how to ride a back to back, how to ride a Century (100 miles) what it felt like to bonk, what I needed to do to not bonk, how it felt riding Whites Hill in Marin the first time.

How it felt climbing Mount Tam and doing the Southern Hills Climb.

How saddle sores felt.

I happily will skip having that experience again.

I occasionally rue not having registered for the ride this year, I was thinking about it a lot, but I decide to apply to graduate school and go to Atlanta for the International Conference, and see my grandmother in Chula Vista and go to Burning Man.

That’s more than enough for my plate this year.

And I still have a few ideas up my sleeve for travel.

I learned a lot of courtesy on those rides and what it felt like when another rider did not extend the same courtesy to me.

Sometimes I can be an asshole and need to prove a point and I could feel that come up in me when I saw the woman on her bicycle stopped at the traffic light at Sanchez and 16th.

I wanted to lecture her.

I wanted to tell her how it’s done.

I know better though.

It’s not my place to tell another person how to live their life and I had a flash of a driver yelling out the window at me to “wear a fucking helmet!”

Which doesn’t do much from saving my startled self when I get screamed at.

Hey asshat, when you are so focused on the behavior of someone else you’re ignoring yourself.

Just saying.

So when I coasted in to a stop at 16th and Sanchez I held my tongue.

I looked at the woman.

She was oblivious.

She was not seeing me as I was straddling my bike waiting for the light to change.

She also was fiddling with her phone and had ear phones in, so the likelihood that she heard me holler about passing on the right was nil, and she wasn’t going to hear me and my “friendly” I know better bicycle protocol about passing on the right.

I paused.

And I brought my attention to the road ahead of me.

The trickiest part of the commute, especially when its slick, the turn at Sanchez onto 17th.

There’s a great bike lane on 17th, but turning left I have to cross two sets of MUNI train tracks at a parallel instead of simply cutting straight across.

It is far to easy too slip on them.

I have in the past, but never gone down.

I kept my counsel, the light changed.

The woman hadn’t seen the light change, she was a bit behind me.

I signalled a left turn.

I signalled that I was slowing down, that’s a flat open palm hanging down at a right angle waving back and forth (think of a reverse beauty pageant queen on a float waving).

Then I signalled that I was coming to a slow stop.

A squeezing in of my hand into a ball.

I turned left.

I crossed at a diagonal and made it completely over the tracks with no slippage, I turned my head, the woman was directly to my left, riding in between the train tracks, not even in the bicycle lane.

“It’s your life lady,” I thought to myself and then, out of no where, I should move over, she’s going to pass me and cut me off again at the light.

I could just feel it.

Except.

Well.

She wiped out on the tracks.

She went down.

Hard.

I am still not sure how I avoided hitting her.

She was passing me and her bicycle nearly toppled me, I weaved to the right, and rolled off my pedals, sliding my feet out of my foot retention straps (oh how do I love thee my Hold Fast straps) and squeezing slow and steady on my brake so I wouldn’t slip too.

It all happened in slow motion.

I can still see her right hand, fingers spread, reaching to catch her fall, I can see how if I hadn’t swerved just at that moment, how I would have rolled over her hand.

I shudder.

She broke her basket on her bike and bananas flew into the street.

A car drove over one and the smell of ripe banana wafted over the tracks and assaulted my nose.

“Are you ok?” I asked, stopping, looking back, “do you need help?”

“I’m ok, I’m ok,” she stood.

I watched her pick up her bicycle and shakily run her hands over her body.

“Are you sure?” I asked again.

“Yeah, thanks,” she said and waved me off.

The car that had rolled over the banana was stopped a few feet a head of me.

I rolled up on her.

“She ok?” The driver leaned out the window.

“Yeah, she’s ok,” I smiled.

The driver smiled.

“Whew.”

Be careful out there kids.

I was a little discombulated but so grateful that I hadn’t yelled at her.

That I kept my lecture to myself.

I am certain she learned what she needed.

That’s the thing.

We all learn exactly what we need when we need it and I can’t hurry any one’s process up.

Mine included.

I can be right.

Or.

I can be happy.

And today I was very happy to make it to work in one piece.

Very happy.

A Walk On The Beach

January 6, 2014

A phone call with a friend.

Poor friend who is in Wisconsin where they are declaring schools called off tomorrow with expected temperatures at -50 degrees Farenheit.

Yeesh.

That is cold.

I, meantime, was walking barefoot on the beach, a balmy San Francisco January Sunday stroll, with my pant legs rolled and just a button up and a tank top on.

We compared notes, caught up, and yes, laid out some tentative plans for me to come back to Wisconsin and have a visit with her, because it’s been too damn long.

She will be e-mailing me some dates that will work best for the family, having three boys takes some juggling, and I will be looking at going back either in middle May or late June, early July.

I said I cannot come after mid-July, nor in August or September.

Nope.

I will be getting ready to go do Burning Man and I suspect I will be working a lot more for the families as the event gets closer, I won’t be taking time off during those months.

So, Wisconsin in late spring or in high summer.

Either way, it won’t be winter.

Brrr.

The day really was gorgeous.

I sat outside and did a nice long, for me any way, twenty-minute meditation and got some nice sunshine on my face.

I chatted up my mom for a minute going over my flight itinerary for my trip next week, and I made plans to do nothing.

Well, I had a commitment tonight at 5:15 and another at 6:30 down at Church and Market, but other than that, nada.

I was going to beat myself up for not getting out into the surf and being in the water, but I reminded myself that the ocean is not going anywhere and there will be other days to thrash around in the tides.

Instead, I did something novel, saying out loud, “I forgive you for not going surfing today.”

I don’t have to improve every god damn day.

I could, I don’t know, like fucking relax and let the day happen.

Which, well, what do you know, it did.

After I had the long walk on the beach and the long, much-needed catch up with my best friend, I came back to the house and made lunch–so grateful for the grocery shopping trip I did–cooking up some savory oatmeal and having a nice mug of tea while I contemplated what I wanted to do with the rest of the day.

I wanted a book.

I also wanted to swing into Therapy since they were having a crazy clearance sale.

I got my stuff together and took the sweetest warm weather bike ride through the Pan Handle.  A bicycle ride that was not replete with bicycle commuters and people in a mad rush to pass by you and make the lights and get to work, just sweet warm sunshine, a soft breeze, and the delicious smell of eucalyptus trees perfuming the air.

It was gorgeous, which meant it would be even nicer in the Mission.

It was the perfect day to be in the Mission.

Normally a sunny day in the Mission would be crawling with people, but as it turns out, lucky me, there was a 49ers game happening and most everyone was inside getting their football on.

I got to Therapy and it was empty. I spent an hour combing the racks and got out of the shop with a new pair of shoes, a tank top, and three blouses for $117!

Sweet.

Huge score from the store.

The shoes alone were originally more than what I spent in toto.

Now I have some fun new clothes to wear down to Florida.

I checked the weather before speaking with my mom and despite them going through a slight cold snap, the weather is supposed to be in the mid 70s to low 80s while I am there.

High heeled sandals and a soft creamy new blouse, just meant for trotting around the golf cart community.

Or at least sitting and having ice tea with my family.

And if the weather continues to be as lovely as it was today, perhaps even I shall be sporting sandals about the city.

I will certainly have them for my summer jaunt to Wisconsin.

Though I am fairly certain flip-flops will be more my style when I am there.

Nice to have a trip like this to look forward to.

I priced out tickets recently and I not only can afford it, I feel that I cannot afford to not do it.  I just want to spend more time with the people I love and not seeing my best friend in years just doesn’t do it for me.

Aside from my score at Therapy I also got a fantastic “new” frame from Harrington’s on Valencia and 17th, for my copy of my grandparents wedding photograph.

Very excited to see it restored to its “original” self.

Then, with my messenger bag loaded with goodies I left my bicycle locked up and took a walk down the block to Clarion Alley.

It is an alley connecting Valencia Street with Mission Street and is notable for its many murals.

There were two artists working on pieces and the lack of tourists and natives, for that matter, holed up in the bars rooting for the home team, left me with the perfect time to pull out my camera.

I took a slow walk down the alley and looked at the murals.

With Much Respect

With Much Respect

Saint

Saint

Artist Working

Artist Working

Clarion Alley

Clarion Alley

Marilyn

Marilyn

Enjoying having my camera out and the quiet of the streets.

For about another ten minutes, then the hooting and hollering and honking began, and well, I ain’t no dummy, I guess them footballers were celebrating a Niner win.

So I gathered my things about me and got back to my bike.

It was time to make it over to Church and Market any how and I wanted to avoid the revellers that were spilling out of the bars and the cops that showed up out of the blue to watch that the drunken party not get out of hand.

The sun dipped quickly behind Twin Peaks and I was grateful that I am a true San Franciscan, not lured by the lull of luscious afternoon sun, I know it’s going to cold after the sunsets, and yup.

Sure did.

I grabbed my sweatshirt and jean jacket and got cozy for the ride.

And it was much needed for the ride back to the ocean by the time I finished with my commitment it was officially cold.

The ride home was just as satisfying though.

Little traffic, crisp air, the indigo sky blushing a late slip of coral as the last kiss of sun fled this side of the hemisphere.

I felt comfortable and rode my bike down the middle of the road breezing along happy in myself, my life, my city.

Didn’t hurt that I had a new pair of shoes in my bag either.

Ready for the week ahead of me and looking forward to a little trip down South.

Life is pretty grand.

Especially when I get out of my way.


%d bloggers like this: