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Those darned uphill stops

October 13, 2006

Oh, it is Friday the 13th today, isn’t it? Well, nothing bad happened today. Not even close.

Had to go to Auburn this morning—in the car. Are you addicted if you can think of nothing but getting home and going for a ride? Whatever, it was a sunny mid-afternoon, and there were errands to run.

The first stop was University Village. On the way, I had plenty of time to get comfortable with crawling in traffic. For some reason, nothing was moving faster than walking speed on Pacific Street, but that’s okay because the PX, like a motorcycle, has a wet clutch (it’s in an oil-filled chamber), which you can slip to your heart’s content.

I whipped into the 25th Avenue entrance at U Village as I had a million times on the ET. As I descended the slight hill, it occurred to me: I’m going to have to come back up.

Dodged a bullet. There’s a light, and it turned green just as I made the left from the faux street where Pottery Barn Kids has its entrance. Crawl in 2nd gear, then twist hard when the Suburban at the head of the line makes its right. I tuck in behind, taking advantage of the 1/3 of a lane that’s available next to a parked car when some inattentive soul in what looked like a rented Ford Focus failed to notice me.

Next stop was even steeper. Oh, my. Oh well, I know the trick is to get off the brake pedal just as the clutch engages. I’ll just need to do it. Errand accomplished, I prepare to leave the parking lot and see there are four cars ahead of me. And the one immediately in front of me is a Volvo with a manual transmission and a driver with clutch issues of her own. The Volvo is on a more level part of the entrance, so I’m happy to stay behind and wait. And wait. The car at the head of the line wants to make a left turn onto 25th, and there’s lots and lots of traffic coming from both directions.

Eventually the logjam breaks, everybody else wants to go right, and I only have to slip the clutch a bit before I can join the traffic. Another bullet dodged.

The last hill was the biggest, the intersection of Mercer Street and Eastlake Avenue. It’s pretty steep. The light turns red at the base of the hill, and there’s an old beater Toyota Van in front of me. Can’t stop, though… the brain stem directs me to pull a Rome move and whip around the Toyota to the level surface of Eastlake. I can hear rattling and pinging as the Toyota’s driver struggles, but I screw up and stall the bike. My advantage is gone, and the Toyota driver apparently didn’t like my whipping around him, because he took his preferred line through to the overpass to Capitol Hill. Oh, well. Gonna have to deal with it sometime. Favicon

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