This morning I woke up early, layered up in what seemed like way too many clothes for May, and left the house around 6 am. It was chilly out, and I had more woolies in my backpack for standing around later. I rode my bike almost 7 km to the Calgary Marathon race start in Bridgeland. Traffic is delightfully quiet at that early on a Sunday, and I saw wildlife along the NE bike paths. I saw a lone goose near my home and a couple of rabbits further south.
I was very surprised when I saw a huge, graceful bird jump a ditch to evade my approach north of 16th Avenue. At first when I saw the long trailing tail feathers I thought it might be a pheasant, but then it dawned on me that it was an escaped peacock from the zoo. That revelation fit with the bird calls I had heard in that area recently. I wonder if the zoo wants it back. Immediately after that I saw a coyote, but it was on the other side of a long chain link fence from the peacock and me.
Ah, the amusements I enjoy on my bike. I have been pondering a good name for my borrowed hybrid bicycle, and it came to me on the path this morning. She is Sweet Pea. To me, sweet peas are hardy flowers that don’t mind starting outside in early spring. They know when to sprout and climb well, and they remind me of happy summer days. Sweet Pea.
I didn’t have to be right at the start line to pick up my radio until 6:45 and I got there early, so I wandered around for a bit to see if there was anyone I knew. Eventually I headed back to the start, picked up my radio, and chatted with a few other bike volunteers, who also happen to also be Calgary Roadrunners (Dawn & Danny). One of my employers was running the full marathon distance, and he came over for a cheery hello before lining up.
I set my watch at the starting horn and watched some of the stampede from the start before heading off to my post at the half way point of the marathon up north of the University. Along the path near downtown I came across a lost 10k racer. His race hadn’t started yet, but he had no idea where the start line was. He was at least 3 km away from the start and was rather disheartened when I pointed him back towards it. I don’t know if he got to race or not.
I made it to my post at the halfway point just as Jim was setting up the timing mats. We had plenty of time before the racers would arrive, so I ate a a peanut butter sandwich I’d packed that morning and we shared some home made cookies. We called in the front runners on the radio to give race organizers an idea of how the race was going, and then settled in to calling split times as the packs ran through. Jim and I took turns calling times and warning racers not to trip on the mat. I got to cheer on a few friends at our “half way party”. We packed up the mats at about 3 hours and I meandered back to the start to drop off my radio.
I hung around the finish for a while and high-fived Robert, who won his Masters division in the Half. I chatted with various Roadrunners and tried to stay out of the wind while waiting to cheer some runners I knew would finish later on. Most conversations were brief, as it seemed like the temperature had dropped and most folks were heading for somewhere warm. Eventually I headed home on another slightly exploratory route for a total of 37 km on my bike. That definitely counts for bike commute #20.
I was a fun morning, but the cold drained my energy. I warmed with soup, a hot bath and a nap.