COUNTDOWN – 20 days!!
I hiked a bike trail yesterday (Saturday) in preparation for my Appalachian Trail thru-hike beginning the end of this month. The day was absolutely gorgeous! But with the rain that covered the area during the last three days, I knew the MetroPark trails would be muddy, some totally underwater, and many treacherous on the steep downhills. So I selected the dry, straight bike trail from Waynesville toward Cincinnati. A bike trail has some great advantages and some challenges to consider. The advantages include: a smooth, solid surface void of sneaky roots, trip rocks, and swamps the size of the everglades to navigate. A hiker can maintain a quick pace and can log a high number of miles (I hiked for a tad over 9 hours and accumulated 27 miles). Mileage is easy to calculate because the trail has markers every ½ mile.
The downsides are significant as well – the surface, although solid and dry, is hard on the feet and knees – there is very little “give” on the surface and your leg joints take a beating. It’s called a bike path for a reason – today’s weather brought out lots of bikers, most very serious folks with fancy bikes, fancy clothing and a fast pace. Try as I will, I cannot keep up with them – they all pass me. Being the tortoise among all the hares, makes hiking a challenge. I felt like the frog in Frogger trying to get across the road with all the speeding autos. I walk on the left facing oncoming bikers. When I see them coming I switch to the right side so they will have a clear lane. However, if a speed-racer comes up from behind me while I’m on the right, I am simply in their way. I step off the trail and yield to the speed. I listened to a book on CD today, which makes the process of lane shifting even a bit more dangerous. I can’t hear the bikers coming up on me. Some try to give a verbal warning like, “Biker on your right!” But with a book being narrated in my ear, the warning is hard to catch.
Every once in a while the perfect storm presents itself – just like Saturday: I move to the right to make room for walkers coming toward me. I looked behind me before I moved over – there were hikers a fairly long distance behind me on the right. When the walkers passed me, I moved to the left to get back in my appropriate lane. The hikers behind me weren’t hikers after all, but tandem bikers. We almost collided (a catastrophe for all of us). The driver made a skillful swerve and avoided a nasty smash. I got bumped in the elbow but the bikers remained upright. I yelled “Sorry!” but they kept peddling. It was totally my fault – I felt so bad and so responsible. I replayed the event in my mind with a sprawling bike, blood and broken bones, and stitches and a lawsuit. It was all my fault – I felt like an intruder on their path. Unless I dust off my Schwinn, I think I will avoid the bike path from now on.
Bike Path Photo found at: http://www.miamivalleytrails.org/ohio-indiana-trail