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The Climbing Club • View topic - A helmet, a helmet, two pints for a helmet!

The Climbing Club

at the University of Washington
It is currently Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:29 am

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2005 4:01 pm 
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That goat computes better than me!
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I signed the papers. Ten pounds for a rental bike for the day, plus twenty-five deposit. On my first day in England, I replaced the dollars to pounds conversion with a pints to pounds one -- a pint of good beer runs about two and a half pounds. This bike rental was worth four pints. The owner handed me a lock and key along with a repair kit, which he commented that I won't have to use. I asked about a helmet, commenting that in the States, they're mostly required by law. He said that helmets are available for five pounds, which I parsed as half the price for the bike. The odd ratio threw me off, and I declined. Two pints for later.

My destination was the legendary Stonehenge, nine miles away, via a winding road following the river Avon. First I had to leave town. Nothing to out of the ordinary -- getting used all the "backward" British things -- driving/cycling on the left, and having front brakes be on the right. A few blocks and a little airtime of my rear wheel got most everything straightened out. I kind local pointed me to the "subway" allowing safe passage under the highway forming a ring around town. Soon I was on the winding road, leaving the town for the country.

Aside for a Z turn that had a sole caution of "Mind the winding road," which I took a little too fast going downhill (got a nice skid with the rear tire), the ride was relaxing and enjoyable. Two-thirds the way to Stonehenge, I took a little detour onto an old farm road that turned into a footpath. The mountain biking was fun, although the steeps needed to be walked when my rear tire would skid while trying to pedal uphill. Soon I was in a secret spot, all alone, watching grassy fields in all directions light up and darken as puffy clouds wafted through.

After a healthy photo session, I backtracked to the main road and continued to Amesbury, about half a mile from Stonehenge. Here, the pleasant winding road I had been on merged into a bustling artery, so I stuck to the sidewalk, only on the southern side of the road. I crested the last hill, and there it was, Stonehenge. My exit was on the northern side of the road. There were no traffic signals. There was no overpass/underpass. There was no marked crosswalk. The traffic was pretty heavy. I decided I'd wait for a gap in the cars, merge into the main lane, change into the turn lane, and enter the Stonehenge parking lot.

Finally I saw a gap I deemed sufficient, and I busted the move. But the car behind me either didn't see me or ignored me and quickly closed in. After swerving on both our parts, somehow everything worked out. But I had come closer than I had in a long time to getting the axe. And I was mad at myself for not having that helmet, as well as for not finding a safer way to cross. On the way back, I crossed by running across the road with the bike, instead of riding with the traffic, and I patiently waited till the road was completely clear. I had made a smattering of rash assumptions -- drivers yield for bikes, drivers will see me (I'm merging from the left, but they sit on the right side of the car), etc.

Glad to have survived Frogger, I paid two pints and entered Stonehenge. It was bittersweet. Magnificent stones mysteriously placed by a long-gone people. But the stones were a caged animal crying. The artery that I fought my way across lay a few hundred feet to the South. A smaller road ran a hundred feet to the north. It was encircled, it's magic suffocated by the improvements of modern man. But it had survived -- other such monoliths fell victim to being broken into bricks for a building. So that it can still survive, a ring of barbed wire encircles the World Heritage site.

I walked around the stones, devoid of any photographic inspiration. I tried to block out the noise of the traffic. I tried to block out the throngs of visitors. I focused on individual stones. The clouds shifted, and the rear stones of lit up as the front ones remained shadowed. Good light is ephemeral, and while it seemed like it lasted so long while it was there, it was gone by the time my camera was ready. I had connected.

I ate my lunch of fresh bread and assorted local cheeses and walked back to my bike. After a much mellower crossing, the ride back was uneventfully pleasant, though thoughts of the near-miss and my stupidity occasionally flashed through my head. I returned the bike, collected my deposit, and walked into a dark, low-ceilinged bar for two pints.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2005 4:16 pm 
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That goat computes better than me!
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Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2002 1:52 pm
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Location: UW
some of the other things I've done in the past few days:

pints, Indian food, pub food
Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Florence Nightingale Museum
Roman Baths, Cathedral in Bath
Salisbury Cathedral
Covent Gardens (saw a crazy street circus), Trafalgar Square, National Gallery
insider tour of Cambridge
attended a performance of the Easter Oratorio at Kings College Chapel in Cambridge
watched the annual Cambridge vs Oxford boat race on the Thames
Natural History Museum

and of course, visited with my friend Gabe, a fellow at Cambridge, who has been a fine host.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2005 1:28 pm 
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An Old Geezer
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Thanks for the TR, Gary. I can't believe your advisor followed you all the way to England just to try to run you over. That was him, right?


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2005 3:15 pm 
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Alpine Bod
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Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2002 1:31 pm
Posts: 1330
Location: Los Americanos
I'm betting Zoran is going to "surprise" Gary by picking him up from the airport ... bringing a club, 7 feet of chain, and a laptop. But Gary, being the savvy code warrior he is, knows how to handle such surprises.

4 pints for a transfusion.


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