Sunday, August 30, 2009

Olfactory Delights

I don't know if my sense of smell has suddenly heightened, or if the wind out of the north carried smells a little further and more intensely, but my nose was working overtime today during my ride.

Sunday mornings usually consist of a ride into George Bush park. Distances vary depending on how I'm feeling on a given Sunday and what else I have scheduled for the day. Today was an out-and-back 12 mile round trip.

Briar Forest drive is the most convenient artery to the park from my home. Briar Forest also happens to be a part of Houston's bikeway plan; lanes were restriped to provide a narrow bike lane near the curb in both directions.

One of the downsides of bike lanes on major thoroughfares is all of the debris that gets pushed over to the curb by auto traffic and running water (from rainfall). Honestly, the lane is pretty useless, but I ride there (when it's clear and when not approaching a stoplight) because that's where motorists expect to see cyclists.

One of the big things to wind up landing in the gutter is dead animals. Today, there were two squirrels on the westbound bike lane, and both of them were very ripe. The wind carried the smell at least 50 years past the carcasses.

North of the trail, on the north side of the reservoir, there were a couple of cedar chip mountains. I'm not sure if they've always been there, but today is the first day that I could smell them. That odor was in the air for almost the whole length of the reservoir's north side.

Crossing Highway 6 on the return trip, the smell of gasoline permeated the air from the Chevron station on the corner. Since I was riding past the valves where tankers refill the gas station's tanks, I assume that they were recently refilled.

One smell I didn't notice was car exhaust. Traffic seemed relatively light compared to most Sunday mornings. Exhaust generally bothers me more in a car than it does on the bike. In fact, the only time I notice exhaust while riding is when waiting at a light surrounded by cars. Plus, it's usually quite warm or quite humid. Today was rather pleasant . . . a welcome change from our summer-long high heat and humidity.

Respite from the heat seems to have a different effect on me, too. Usually, a bike ride is followed by a recliner ride (even before showering). Today, the bike ride was followed by mowing the front lawn. Could this mean that my conditioning is improving after focusing on endurance this summer?

Or could it be the magical power of the Green Smoothie?

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