July 13, 2011

A new ratio in Flagstaff

I love Flagstaff.

I know this may seem a deviant statement compared to the rest of my No Workee, Just Whinee blog, in which 95% of my writing points out faults and the redeeming factor is summed up in a measely 5%. But Flagstaff, and the accompanying adult-like freedom I have here, is suiting me better than I imagined. I promise to try to keep the whining to less than 80%, okay?

This morning for instance, I ate two slices of homemade bread (thank you very much) with peanut butter. I drank my coffee while listening to NPR news--life was good, so good that I saddled up my new bicycle for a ride.

I rode on South Lake Mary Road, a glorified highway with a clean 8-foot bike like on either side. Bike lanes are a marked portion of the right side of the road for bikers to ride safely with traffic. If you've never used a bike lane (I've got two days experience), I can already tell you that there are good bike lanes and bad bike lanes. Bad bike lines are slivers of cracked asphalt on the very edge of a steep road with a 50 mph speed limit. Not only is is hard to stay in a tiny straight line on a big hill, but the SUV's show no mercy when they speed by, pelting you with a burst of wind. Many bikes lanes also suffer from gravel or other slippery material, particularly at the bottoms of hills, the place where bikers reach maximum speed, and therefore maximum wipe-out potential.

I wear a helmet. I'm considering elbow, knee, and wrist protection.

Anyway, good bike lanes, like the lane on Lake Mary Road, are wide and well-maintained, free of debris and large cracks. A good bike lane also depends on the obedience of surrounding traffic, and I saw most cars behaving properly. One car, however, was trailing a long-distance runner in the bike lane. A woman on an expensive bike, pulled up beside the car and yelled at the unassuming driver for being in the bike lane. This is the bike lane! No cars allowed! 

So there I was, rolling down and barely ascending the hills and valleys of the self-policing road. The scenery was incredible. To my right, lush forest, meadows, quaint Bed and Breakfast operations; and to my left, the small communities, horse stables and the distant mountain peaks. What a ride.

It's downhill when I'm headed away from my house, which means that the way home made my legs and my lungs burn. While riding, I came up with this discouraging metaphor for life's awesome things. Sure the downhill part is really fun and easy, but just wait until you turn around to come home! Paying for things by credit card, making a huge mess while cooking, eating too much cookie dough...I wanted to putting "Moving to Flagstaff for grad school" as an example, but I can't sabotage my future after Flagstaff just yet.

For now, I'm enjoying a downhill coast in a beautiful bike lane in Flagstaff, but if there is gravel at the bottom, or errant drivers, or maybe the sun's too hot, you know I'll write about it.