The snow has melted. The plow blade is off the ATV and the bike is back on the road. Weather forecasters predicted a high of 51, so I rummaged through my cycling closet, trying to figure out what would keep me warm, but not hot. An old Pearl Izumi fleece-lined long-sleeve jersey; bib shorts and leg warmers; long-fingered Giordana gloves; and a liner in my Giro helmet. Spot on for a ride west on the Centennial Trail toward Spokane.
The Spokane River was running high, and the geese were flying back north over the rapids. The trail was crowded at mid-day, with cyclists, young skateboarders, and people walking their dogs. Or, in some cases, dogs walking their people. Most folk were pretty aware of their surroundings, maintaining proper trail etiquette. Cyclists and skateboarders on the right (with traffic), and walkers facing traffic. So far, so good, until I passed Mirabeau Park and saw, about 100 yards ahead, a man and woman on the right of the trail. I cruised toward them at about 16 mph, and was prepared to give them a heads-up holler, "On your left," when just 20 yards from them, I saw the leash, stretching across the trail to an Australian shepherd on the extreme left-hand side of the trail. I hit the brakes, shifting my weight to the back of the saddle so I wouldn't go over the handlebars. After giving the couple a piece of my mind, they apologized and I geared up again. The dog didn't seem phased at all.
I turned around at Farr and headed back toward Stateline Rd. and the Idaho border. This was my second time out this year after way too much rain and slush, and my legs started to tire some after climbing the sprinter's hill at Barker. Paralleling I-90, I was passed by a younger guy riding a Specialized carbon bike. I caught his rear wheel for a while, but fell back until we approached the final sprinter's hill with a sharp left hand bend. He stayed right, so I jumped out of the saddle, hands on the drops, and passed him on the inside of the bend. It felt great until I blew up about 100 yards farther on and he passed me for good. I met him at the parking lot. He was a 20-something year-old German. Not Jan Ullrich, but in pretty good shape.
My blood sugar was 122 at the start of the ride, and 109 at the end. Two Chocolate #9 gels and a Honey Stinger bar did the job. Off to Taco Bell for a Burrito Supreme. Man can not live on cycling food alone.