Thursday, April 9, 2009

Squirrel's Up...Action's in Back

I have this theory on Ragbrai and on group bike rides, that the action is in back. It is where the most beers are drank, the finest jokes are cracked, and the ride is typically a tad easier, as the pace is not so, um, rushed. And if you ride along with the right crew, you can embrace the suck, even enjoy a free ride from time to time.
Naturally, I agreed in approximately a millisecond when Keri asked if I was up for sharing team "Sweeper" duties for last night's ride. I didn't need to think twice, and it was probably my turn anyway.

And of course, almost as if it was scripted, we hadn't even left the parking lot and amazing things began happening.

MULTIPLE amazing things, to be exact:
1. I taught a woman how to change gears, as she could not get herself out of the parking lot. And yes, I hear you people who taught me how NOT to ride saying:
Ali, the grinder?
To you, I say:
Shut it.

2. Following my brilliant lesson, the woman above promptly dropped her chain, and was unable to "fix." So, I "fixed" all the while she bitched about our boys at the bike shop where they seemingly could not "fix." Take THAT Sterling. :)

Annnnnd, things finally in order, we were off.
Yes, these two issues were in the parking lot.

Keri and I being designated "ride sweepers" were joined in back by our buddy Mark who out of the blue showed up, bless him, and rode along with us. If you dig back in the blog archives far enough, you can find a story about Mark on last year's Ragbrai. We love him. He loves us. Kind of like Jesus, but not quite since it's a holiday weekend and I should probably be respectful.

3. I digress. It became immediately apparent that we were likely to catch the woman on the mountain bike traveling mock 10 mph tops. We did. Oh what to do then? Stay on said road going slooow, and therefore freeze? She would have nothing of it, claimed she new the route and would be turning around soon anyway, and sent us on our way.

4. And then I forgot the route, once. Okay twice. And this was even after Heather came along and spray painted it. She looks mighty fine with a can of green spraypaint hanging out her jersey, if I do say so myself.

4a. Shortly after forgetting and then remembering said route, we stopped to help change a tube. It was not my tire that flatted, but I did the honors. And yes, people, I got the last of that damned tire over that rim ALL BY MYSELF (the two year old in me was SO proud).

5. As we began a gradual descent about three quarters of the way into said ride; a squirrel scampered into our path (not to be confused with the MAN Squirrel). Riding three abreast on a little traveled road, I, being in the middle, was LEAST likely to hit this squirrel. Keri, who was on the outside and closest to the squirrel immediately began yelling/begging sweet cheers of hope to said squirrel that went something like this:

Oooh squirrel, don't stop now! Keep going buddy!
Don't turn back now.
Go buddy, go!

And then it happened. The crazy little bastard did a seizure like turn in the middle of the road and strategically dived/placed his neck straight under my wheel.

Koom. KOOM.
Up and over the squirrel I went.

Twice (because I was not riding a unicycle).

I am not very girly as many people can attest, but I immediately began screaming and flailing all girl-like and Mark, man that he is, immediately assessed the situation and noted quickly that if I continued said flailing I'd probably take the others out. So he immediately began consoling me:


Sweet. So I paralyzed the little varmit, that may be worse. I turn to look and he quickly blurts out:


I am not one to listen to instructions typically, but in this instance I didn't look. Or maybe I tried to look but couldn't see. I cannot really remember, I was all hopped up on these caffeinated Jelly Bellies that Greg slipped me before the ride and it is hard to think clearly when you've just murdered something and have sugar and caffeine running through your veins AND you're trying to balance on two wheels while freaking out.
From that point on, all I could see clearly was that little squirrel, his beady eyes looking up at me as he plunged beneath my wheel, emerging from those woods next week on a little squirrel parapelegic cart like this rabbit here:

We looked for that poor squirrel when we came back around that loop and saw nothing. We had many hypotheses about what happened to the little guy, mine of course being that he was out in the woods, getting his little cart fitted, but little did we know, the City of Des Moines probably already scooped him up, as they have a place designated right on their website for this sort of tragedy.

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