Monday, November 19, 2012

well that was humbling

A week ago Monday I realize that when my meeting gets out, at 5pm, I could bicycle to Rapunzel's gymnastics class, put my bicycle in the trunk of the car and ride home with Contraption Captain and Rapunzel.  I consider the location of the gym and see it is about five miles away.  Then I see that I can take the lovely Stevens Creek trail, yay!  I will zip along and see no cars and have a beautiful ride and then meet up with my family, life is excellent!

5pm comes and goes.  The meeting drags on.  Outside it gets dark.  I feel a faint uneasiness.  I haven't been on this bike trail in over three years but I remember that it is not lit and that the "off-ramps" are marked in only the sketchiest of ways.  I start to wonder if I will be able to find the exit off the trail to the street I need to take to the gym. 

I reassure myself that I have a new bright light and that if I miss my turn-off I can always bicycle back for it because hey, missing a turn-off on a bicycle is not a big deal, right? 

At 5:30 the meeting grudgingly comes to an end and I beat it out of there.  It is very dark.  I turn on all my lights.  Now that the meeting is almost over I have a bare fifteen minutes to get to the gym but I'm a fast bicyclist so that should be fine.

Note to self:  when you hear that small nagging voice in your head, you should listen.  You really really should listen. 

I hurtle down the entire length of the trail and arrive at an expressway.  There is no gym in sight.  I have no clue where I am.  I ask someone for the street I am looking for.  She has no idea where I am either.  She suggests I go back onto the trail and "turn at the large garbage can."

I barrel back onto the trail and do a few tight circles around a large dumpster.  It is super dark and if there is a way off the trail here I can't see it.  I take another turn and find myself way up in the sky crossing over a highway.  This would be fabulously interesting if I were not totally lost and late and starting to freak out. 

I ask myself how a road bicyclist could find herself lost in the forest.  I dig through my backpack and discover that my cell phone has a sliver of life.  I call the Contraption Captain and sounding angry (because I am really mad at myself for being such a jackass as to get lost in the woods) I tell him that I am lost and he should head home with Rapunzel. 

Not unreasonably he asks where I am, he wants to help.  I basically shout "In the woods with all these trees!  I have no idea where I am!  Arg!"  I end up circling around some more following directions from helpful passersby that go exactly nowhere.  The directions that is, the people passing by are all too smart to get lost in the woods. 

Finally I just exit the trail altogether and start pedalling up a sidewalk on the wrong side of the road.  Yes.  I became one of those people.  I wanted to at least be on the correct side of the road but couldn't figure out how to get across the seven lanes of traffic without dying.  Then my hand was forced by the sidewalk ending and so I made my way across the road averting death. 

Ultimately, the Contraption Captain found me by the side of the road standing with my bicycle, demoralized and disconsolate.  Rapunzel silently offers me some of her Halloween candy. 

It's been a week and now I can admit that yes, it was pretty funny.  Not at the time but in retrospect at least.  The frantic biking up and down the trail and over the highways.  The joggers dressed entirely in black who would appear and disappear like ninjas.  The dying cell phone. 

Contraption Captain told me that the place I was supposed to get off the trail was basically a parking lot behind an apartment building and he is not surprised that I didn't see it.  Probably he is just being nice but it still cheered me up. 


  1. First time I cycled from Chester Station to my parents-in-law on the Wirral in Cheshire, for Christmas 2003, it was much the same story. I rode 20 miles through often unlit paths in the countryside. The worst bit was a very muddy old railway cutting overshadowed by trees, at a point where my front light's battery was beginning to give up. The Invisible Visible Woman had pretty much given me up for dead by the time I emerged, blinking, from the wintry darkness...

  2. Isn't "sorry but I have to leave now so I can bike home on an unfamiliar route before it gets very dark" an automatic and heroic way to get out of the meeting? And shouldn't you get carbon offset points for that?

    Isn't it the bicyclist's version of "Sorry, gotta leave, carpool y'know"?

    Say it loud.

    1. I wish very much that I had done exactly this =(