This past Sunday morning I was on my usual lonely 10 mile ride down to IH 20 and back. I usually ride in this direction because I have only one dog to contend with. The big red dog next door to the Willow Springs Missionary Baptist Church. I don’t know if he will bite or not, but he has a very aggressive attitude. I’m sure you’ve run into his kind, the one’s where you hear the jaws slam shut just a couple of feet from your legs and the snarling bark with saliva flying. After I get past this dog, the rest are just curiosity barkers that pretty much stay on the porch or at least in the yard.
It’s about 2 miles down my bumpy county road before I hit the smooth chipseal shoulder of Texas Hi-way 19 and turn south towards Canton. Canton, Tx is the home of the famous First Monday Trades Day flea market and Dog Alley, the largest ongoing flea market in the world. Canton has a population of about 3600 that can grow on a First Monday weekend to 200,000 visitors and vendors.
I’m leisurely riding south on the downhill side of 19 counting road kill turtles. This is the time of year when all the female red-ear turtles leave the rural stock tanks and go find a road to cross so they can lay their eggs. Why they have to cross a road before laying their eggs is beyond me. I’m up to 12 when I notice something across the hi-way. I’m surprised. It’s another bike rider! Between the cars and 18 wheelers passing between us, I wave enthusiastically and yell out HELLO.
It’s a well equipped DF rider bent over his down bars watching about 2 feet in front of his front wheel. He turns his head my direction just in time to give me a wave before we pass out of sight of each other. I’ll be damned, another bike rider. This is the first bike rider I’ve seen during the three years that I’ve lived in the Canton/Edgewood area. It lifts my spirits as I peddle along more quickly to my turnaround at Interstate 20.
After a short but very intense climb to the IH 20 overpass, I stop at the convenience store and get a Diet Coke. Relax for a short while and head back home after waving to everyone that was waving at me while they were buying gas. Out here in East Texas, waving is a big deal. You always wave at oncoming traffic on the country roads.
As I coast down the steep decent off of IH 20 I see what I assume is the same rider coming from the opposite direction. I guess he made a turnaround at some point and headed back to Canton. I have more time to watch him on this encounter. He has all the correct bike attire. Helmet, biking jersey and shorts, shoes. We wave again and I see in my mirror he has a blinking red light.
I never expect to see anyone that matters on my rides. Just like today, I’m in my tractor riding apparel sans my straw hat and lace up boots. Bluejeans and T-shirt with a pocket for cell phone, dirty tennis shoes used for yard work and my The University of Texas Longhorn baseball cap.
I made a diagonal stop on the wide shoulder of 19 to see if he is making any attempt at stopping, and he’s not. After the steep climb up to the 20 overpass, I’m in no shape to run anyone down, so I let well enough alone. I watch him stand on the pedals as he starts his steep climb up to 20 and I ride on.
On one of the forums that I frequent, I made the statement a couple of time that I’ve never seen another bike rider in my part of East Texas. Well, I can’t make that statement anymore.
I had a nice ride today and saw another rider. I hope it’s not another three years until I see the next one.