Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

I HAVE BEEN ASSIMILATED

I HAVE BEEN ASSIMILATED

            I have lived in Denver for nearly 2.5 years now, and just this morning I felt like a true Coloradoan. I headed out for the office on my bicycle early, relishing the weekend commute when there are hardly any cars on the road to contend with, and the bunnies, squirrels and prairie dogs are out in force. Clad in my padded biker shorts and Columbia jacket, I sped along the bike path with reckless abandon.

            Initially I feared riding too fast, and most of my ride was filled with thoughts of crashing, and which body parts would I want to sacrifice as I tumbled into traffic. Today I enjoyed the thrill of the speed I achieved riding downhill, peddling faster and racing around turns and through empty intersections. The cool wind whipped at my jacket, and Natalie MacMaster blasted her fiddle music in my ears as I whizzed along, ringing my bell and darting around the morning walkers who were out enjoying the trail.

            I no longer felt like a foreigner, I felt that this is my home. Every intersection and every park I rode through was familiar, and I cut through several neighborhoods without fear of getting lost. I couldn’t help but smile each time I rang my bell at those in front of me, and issued an enthusiastic “good morning” as I passed them. One elderly gentleman apparently couldn’t hear my bell, and when I noticed he and he dog were not moving aside I slowed down as I approached. My “good morning” startled him, and his dog, and they both turned with looks of sheer terror on their faces. They immediately melted and smiled back when they saw that it was merely a middle-aged, grinning, goofy-looking white lady hoping to pass.

            When I first moved to Denver I was not impressed with the hospitality of the people, and still have found few individuals that I would consider friends, or even close acquaintances. But having spent a great deal of time in the outdoors lately, I have indeed fallen in love with Colorado. I never imagined an average day for me would entail 15 mile bike rides or 10 mile hikes. And I certainly never imagined waking up every day excited to see what the day would bring.

 

August 10, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Super Host of the Bike Trails

FROM THE TRAIL…
I have done an excellent job of riding my bicycle everywhere I go. I think I have used a transit pass once in the last week. Of course there’s the perceived dedication to minimizing my carbon footprint, caring for the environment and all that, which are perfectly good side-effects of bike riding. But truthfully I’m in it for the cost savings and the biker’s butt. I have acquired the look of a Colorado biker—padded spandex shorts, white logo’d T-shirt, a kid’s helmet that fits just right, and my recent addition of a bell, used for ringing to alert those in front of you of your presence. I ring it a lot just because the sound of it makes me happy.
There are other side-effects however, mainly mental and emotional. Each morning I have a moment of initial debate with myself. I could sleep in another 45 minutes, it might rain, it might be too hot, or, worst of all, I would have to ride uphill in the early morning. Thankfully I have held fast and gotten on my bike, and am rewarded immediately when I hit the street and smell the fresh morning air, the wet dirt from sprinkled lawns, and hear the silence of the city in the early morning.
Spring also happens to be the time of year when all of the baby animals are running about, and they seem more active in the morning. Baby bunnies, curious and not old enough to be cautious, run into my path and stop, waiting for me to approach, before darting off into the bushes at the last possible second. Baby prairie dogs do the same thing, standing along the edge of the path to watch me, their mothers squeaking loudly for them to run away.
There are plenty of designated bike lanes on the roads, which I use when necessary, but given the chance I like to ride on the sidewalks through the historic neighborhoods, or along the parkways and river trails. The smells are constantly changing, and I often catch a whiff of what smells like honeysuckle, then lilacs, then cottonwood, and occasionally marijuana from a local grow house. My commute takes me about an hour, depending on whether I’m riding from my downtown home or my suburb home. I’m fully awake and energized by the time I arrive, and with the feeling that I’ve already had a special break for the day. Like stopping for a leisurely picnic in the shade. It’s good for my soul, and, did I mention, my butt is becoming phenomenal.
The negative side-effect of bike riding is other bikers. Motorists I must admit are mostly courteous and yield. Other cyclists, however, are jerks. They seem to be in a huge hurry, and apparently it is against their code of ethics to ever slow down, even when navigating a busy walkway. And, they never, ever use their bells. They expect pedestrians to yield to them, and I have seen many looks of fear on poor walkers out with their dogs as a cyclist races between them without ever slowing down.
I’m not that kind of biker, so I always make it a point to slow down when I’m approaching anyone on the path, either walking toward me or away from me. I ring my bell well in advance, and when they turn around to look I always greet them with a big smile and a “good morning.” They seem shocked that I would interact with them, but I always get a nice smile and greeting in return. I like to think I’m doing a little to offset the arrogance of other bikers. I’m like the super host of the bicycling path.

June 16, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Leisurely Bike Ride

A LEISURELY BIKE RIDE
The weather has finally remained consistently warm and dry enough that I dared drag my bicycle out of the closet it has lived in all winter. It needed a new tube and some adjustments, but I was pretty eager to resume the wonderful exercise, and truthfully, the really good butt, that comes from bike riding. Being in better shape this year after a year of not smoking, I was eager to test my stamina. Although my bike wasn’t yet ready, Robert and I headed out for what was my inaugural bike ride of the year, on the tandem bike. Our goal was to ride the Cherry Creek bike path and map my route from his house to my office and back. It’s a shorter commute than to my apartment, in theory at least, but I’m not so sure of that. I always feel like I’m being scrutinized when I’m on the back of the tandem. I feel like I should be laughing wildly, extending my feet out with childish joy, like you see in the movies. In reality riding a tandem bike requires a lot of trust and teamwork, with either rider having the ability to crash both at any moment.
The good news is we made it to the turn off near my work and it was a thoroughly enjoyable ride. The bad news is the return trip involved some pretty major hills. The worst news is our chain broke just as we headed up the first hill, still several miles from home. Which was also many miles from any road that rescuers could use to access our location. Which was a moot point anyway, since everyone we knew was either at work or school. Now this is the point in our relationship where we had the opportunity to see each other’s true colors. Any of my past relationships would have involved gnashing of teeth, screaming, blaming, pointing of fingers and ultimately throwing of the bike in anger. Aw, heck, who am I kidding? None of my past relationships would have involved a ten-mile-long tandem bike ride.
Neither of us really had pressing plans for the day, and after the initial shock wore off, we just laughed as we began pushing the bike home. It extended our time to chat, and I was secretly a little relieved that I would not have to endure the hell of riding uphill. The weather was warm but there was a slight breeze, so it wasn’t unbearable. As we huffed and puffed our way up the first hill, we realized it would be a long journey. I pointed out the blowing grass on the dam to Robert, and it triggered some brain cells that had apparently been rendered temporarily dormant. He smiled really big and straddled he bike, then told me to get on. Confused, I reluctantly did so, asking if he thought of a way to fix it.
“No, but this part’s downhill.” We did laugh like children then as we slowly started to pick up speed, and there was a feeling of true joy when we realized we would have temporary relief on the hills. We coasted for as long as we could, then pushed with our feet like a skateboard on the flat spots. Eventually we had to dismount and took turns pushing the bike up the hills. But every hill we pushed up, we knew we could coast back down. So the leisurely bike ride wasn’t as leisurely as we had planned, but by the time we coasted into the driveway, day had turned into an adventure.

June 12, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment