Trail Ramblings: The Best And The Worst Of September.

This September has had some of the best riding and one of the worst anniversaries. Many of you have taken advantage of the great weather and enjoyed group rides on the Homestead trail, ridden gravel to the Kansas border, gone bike packing on the Wabash Trace, gone mountain biking and ridden in remembrance of Randy Gibson. I remember how I often crossed paths with him riding through the Haymarket or next to the First Street Trail, where he would invariably take the street. The trail, with all it’s conflict points, was too dangerous for his liking. We’d wave and smile and ride on. Sunday was the difficult one-year anniversary of his death by a drunk driver and it weighed heavily on the minds of many. Being in China when it happened, it was hard to see it unfold from afar and not be here.

Photo courtesy Rob Evans

China has stiffer drunk driving penalties, but some still risk it, as heavy drinkers will if they can get away with it. Before I learned how to navigate in Zhoukou I would sometimes let people drive me around. One of these early times we were convinced to leave our bikes at a tea shop to go to a birthday party in the car of a friend, because we didn’t know the way by bike. Unfortunately our friend got very drunk and then insisted he was able to drive us, his wife, and two small children back to the shop to get our bikes! There was no way I was getting in that car with him at the wheel and cautioned the others against it, too. Steve had to convince him to sit in the back and his wife had to drive a standard transmission for the first time. After that experience I made sure I arrived by bike whenever possible, though I knew how to get home by taxi, too.

That night was surreal in other ways, too. We saw a front of air pollution move in, swirling in from the sky, dimming the street lights. The AQI (air quality index) got up to 500 that night. “Good” is 0-50 ppm. Today the AQI in Lincoln was 20, for reference. And yes, I still like to check.

Of course drunk cyclists can crash too, but they mainly only hurt themselves. One thing I am noticing more of on the trails though, are e-bikes. The one I saw today was moving at a good clip, maybe 20 mph. and the fellow had no helmet. I think they’re good if they get more people riding who wouldn’t perhaps be doing so otherwise, but on multi-use trails I worry about their speed. There may need to be some signage in regards to speed limits and passing. The gas powered “DUI” bikes shouldn’t be on the trails at all, they’re not allowed, though now I’ve even seen a gas powered fat bike around town.

Now get out there and log your miles before the end of the challenge next Sunday. (No e-bikes or DUI bikes allowed) Enjoy the temperatures, but be safe!