Monday, January 31, 2011

Bikes vs. Slugs

I spend twenty minutes a day, five days a week, three seasons a year dodging slugs on the Olympia Woodland bike trail on my way to work. It's hard to think of something I do as regularly, other than, obviously, work and ride my bike. I had Charlotte's Web read to me enough as a girl to be uncomfortable knowingly killing anything, and Slug slalom is generally a mental attentiveness practice I find calming. I like to think I've gotten good at it. Telling a leaf from a slug far enough in advance to dodge at 15 MPH is not an exact science, but when in doubt, I dodge, and my tires generally stay clean.

Once a slug settles into your tread and has a day to cure, it turns into a rubber cement-like substance that will adhere anything to your tire until you stop and pry it off. You may need to do this several times until the layer gets thin enough to stop picking up leaves or gum wrappers, or tiny rocks that tick with each revolution to remind you how fast you're going.

My headlight isn't strong enough to for me to see them at all at night. Every ride home in spring and fall (they seem to hibernate most of the winter) I imagine hitting all the slugs I had to dodge on my way in, vindictive bicycle careening willfully into the too-slow-to-be-bewildered stalked eyes, first letter of "huh?" beginning to creep out of gastropod mouths, and then it's off on the speeding wheel of transubstantiation. Slug into glue, tire into road debris collage, bike into ticking, whisking one-woman band.

The practice of avoiding them becomes meditative. Modern mendicant zen cyclist, I compose haiku for them sometimes.
Slug I hit miles ago
Body thrown under bike tire
Protesting life's speed.

1 comment:

  1. You might want to try the NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB headlight. I use it and it's fantastic (and only about $100). Although then you might have to write a haiku about drivers who you have inadvertently blinded .