On yet another early Wednesday morning, I was mulling my ride to work. Wednesday is trash day in the neighborhood through which I ride, and there are times when I pause while the collection truck stops short to toss another can's content from the curb into the back. I approach cautiously because I don't know who might be on the other side, getting ready to swoop through that narrow passage to get past these early morning rounds. Riding a bicycle gives me the flexibility of squeezing by in the slimmest of gaps. Still, it's never fun seeing that pair of headlights glaring back at me as I move to pass the trash truck. Or the recycling truck. Or the compost truck.
This whole operation is compounded by the number of vehicles involved. By having multiple trucks in a small area, you are almost assured of being trapped behind one of these hulking machines on a Wednesday. And it only gets worse in the rain, when stopping for just a moment or two can be the difference between being a little damp or being soaked. That's when riding on the sidewalk becomes a viable option. Normally I try to avoid this intrusion, preferring instead to play the game via the rules of the road.
Trapped behind a garbage truck on my way to work in the wee hours of the morning with the rain pouring down on me, my Gore-tex, my bike and all that smelly refuse that used to belong to the neighbors along the way: Not my favorite ride. Still, it doesn't quite add up to being my least favorite bike ride.
That distinction belongs to the trip I used to make late on the summer nights when I worked as a dishwasher at the legendary Boulder Mexican restaurant, Tico's. This was one of the first jobs I ever had, and certainly the first time I ever worked more than five hours at a stretch. This was six to seven hours in the steamy back room, where the only contact with the outside world was the thin portal through which the busboys shoved dirty plates, glasses and silverware at us. As the dinner rush peaked, we couldn't distinguish the sweat from the grease from the water that sprayed back at us from the sterilizing Hobart and the incessant splashback from the hose that we used to peel back that first layer of baked on cheese and dried guacamole. At the end of a shift, I dragged myself to the back room, changed out of my ersatz uniform, pulled on my street clothes and squished on out to the bike rack to unlock my trusty Schwinn Collegiate five-speed and begin the trek back home. I suppose I could take solace in the lack of traffic or the calm of the residential streets I rolled through, but the thin coating of grease reminded me of the day I had. Pedaling home, I had visions of a nice hot shower upon my return, but often exhaustion pushed that to the following morning when last night's special had already adhered itself forever to my DNA.
Wednesday morning bike rides aren't always fun, but at least I don't need to hose off afterward.