Thanks to Harper’s generosity, I’ve been having a great time the past couple weeks riding around on a borrowed Blueshift. It’s been fun getting the hang of the geared uni, practicing on freemounting consistently, racing my son around the block on his b*ke, and–rarely–getting the thing moving well above my run-out speed and enjoying the resulting burst of pure adrenalin. Last weekend, I set a new “Blackwood Land Speed Record”. Don’t know the exact speed, but I know it was faster than I’ve ever gone on my Coker, which probably puts it around 17mph. I know that’s easy money for lots of riders, but I’m just me. Was happy for the personal best.
But this post is really about the ride I had yesterday. The one challenge I’ve been having the past couple weeks is that my neighborhood has lots of ups and downs and turns…no real space that’s long and flat where I could just open Blueshift up and see how well I could spin her. I’ve been waiting for the chance.
Fortunately, my company had me at an overnight offsite within a couple stone throws from the Sammamish River Trail in Woodinville. This trail is a favorite of mine…no ups and downs (which might be one reason), but visually interesting and quite peaceful. My first long ride on the trail was documented in this post, and in photos
Anyway, since I’d be staying right by the trail, I tossed Blueshift in the car with plans for an early morning ride. I hit the Trail by 7am right by the Redhook Brewery, heading north. It took me a mile or so to get warmed up, but eventually I was able to start spinning with some consistency, at a pace I’m guessing was around 12-14 mph. It was nice to see the miles disappearing pretty quickly, and it felt faster than it has on my Coker, although definitely not as comfortable. Blueshift requires more concentration–at least for me–than just spinning on a direct drive 36". The act of recovering when you hit the edge of the balance envelope is also a bit more strenuous, and a bit harder on the knees (well, on my bad knees…).
I only had time to do about 8 miles, so my plan was to ride north to a convenient turnaround point where the trail temporarily runs along a public road, then have a quick snack and head back. I was feeling the positive Blueshift karma. At one point, a small group of Canadian geese flew along with me, honking their fool heads off before eventually landing in the river to feed and complain. The trail is also a popular fishing spot for Great Blue Herons, and I’ve spotted them on almost every ride I’ve taken there. Yesterday morning was no exception, and once I’d bagged the “sighting”, I was content, and thinking my day was pretty much made from a “nature encounter” perspective.
But it wasn’t. Just before the turnaround spot, there’s a small bridge on the trail over a creek that flows into the river. I needed to make a saddle adjustment, so I started slowing down and pulling over to grab the railing on the bridge. Just as I got to the railing, I noticed a big black bird overhead. At first I thought it was a crow from the color, then quickly noticed it was much too large for that. By that point, it was gliding about 15 yards in front of me and 5 yards above me in elevation. It kind of stalled for a second, which gave me time to see the white head and white tail, then it dropped fast right past me and straight down to where the creek and the river met. I looked over the railing to see it hit the water and rise off with a good size fish in its talons, white tail spread wide, slowly gaining altitude. And I wasn’t the only observer, since at this point a crow decided to give chase just in case the fish managed to wriggle free. I’m guessing he never got his wish, but he stayed right with the eagle for as far as I could track them, which was probably a visual mile.
I’ve seen bald eagles before, but never anywhere near this close, and never in the act of bagging a fish right in front of me. It’s kind of funny that my most significant wildlife sightings the last two years–deer, heron, eagles-- have all been while on a unicycle.
Blueshift is a lovely machine, and I’m glad our paths could run together for a few miles. Harper, I’ll get her back to you this weekend, with karma and spokes all intact.