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Rumble Strips

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It had to happen. I’ve been on the road since September 5th. I’ve had hard days along the way, but this was a really bad day. The day started with a series of one-finger salute hills stacked like dominoes. Give me a twelve to fifteen mile an hour hill for five miles—or ten miles. These 3-5 mile an hour hills with their 30-45 mile an hour downhills killed me. I turned my Strava trip calculator off when my chain slipped off at a little passed fourteen miles. At that point I had already climbed 2,821 feet, just 119 less than my biggest day, which was thirty-five miles longer in distance than my ride today.

Over the next eight miles I struggled with the rumble strip even though it was my favorite rumble strip. Yes, I understand that it’s strange to have a favorite rumble strip, but these things give me my greatest sense of safety. This one was the narrow, deep one right on the white line. That’s the best because it gives sudden and violent feedback to the driver. The assumption is that there is a wide shoulder to the right of the strip, not the case on this road. On this road it wasn’t wide enough for me to fit all three wheels between the strip and the guardrail—and I suspect that there wasn’t enough room for a car to redirect—just more of a warning that it might hit the guardrail or run off the road. I’m probably more critical here than I need to be because it affected me so much.

I tried to straddle the strip and use my left foot like a gun sight on the edge of the rumbles. Each time I strayed slightly it was like touching an electric fence. With the guardrail to my immediate right, the electric fence rumble strip to my immediate left and semis pushing huge swaths of wind just off my left elbow I quickly developed a headache and I don’t get headaches. It was from the vertigo feeling of being boxed in and not being able to deviate even slightly. The trees lost their density as we moved from Redwoods toward Napa, but I didn’t really care because I was locked into a space a few inches wide. Trying to stay in that space exhausted me more than the hills ever could. I just didn’t feel safe so I pulled the plug on the day.

I fell asleep in the car on the way to the hotel and then fell asleep again at the hotel. This bad day was both physical and mental. I’m hoping for better things tomorrow, but first I need some rest and to release myself from the feelings of the shock treatments. My plan is to rest and then get started earlier tomorrow. Maybe that will help too.

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