Commentary on Alabama Law and Society

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Location: Birmingham, Alabama

Monday, May 29, 2006

Road Kill

Having the day off, I got up early and went for a ride. This was a fairly intense effort over a thirty mile course, featuring three decent climbs. I was cooking through the whole ride, and hit my favorite section feeling very satisfied.

This part, the coolest of the ride, starts at the top of Red Mountain and ends at my doorstep. It's the last four miles of the ride and most of it is downhill. First you zip up, down and around the curvey rollers on Argyle. Then across Pawnee and up one of the last little hills before hitting Altamont. Altamont is a shaded mile on top of the mountain, flat and fast. It ends in a hairpin curve where it turns into Essex. There begins the big downhill. You fly down Essex through Forest Park, around the back of the Triangle Park and onto Clairmont. Continuing down and around Clairmont, you finally turn left at the bottom of the hill.

Almost immediately after the left, you make a right and go up a short, but steep, little rise. If you time it right, your momentum from the big downhill will shoot you about two thirds of the way up, so that you only need a few good pedal strokes to crest it and start down again.

That is what I was doing this morning. I had made the left and was approaching the rise. My outside leg was straight and stiff, keeping the tires glued to the ground. I leaned towards the turn, pressing down on the inside of the handlebars. I was going to slice through the curve and explode up the hill.

But then the dopey squirrel shot out in front of me. If the idiot had kept going it would have been fine. Instead, he scoots across my line, and as I swerve inwards to avoid him, he reverses course. You have probably used your car to do this dance. The result was the same here: Thump.

Momentum and motivation gone, I coasted up the hill and turned around to see the grizly results. No blood, but no movement either. Then he staggered to his feet, only to fall back over again. I got off the bike and picked him up. Nothing felt broken. Not knowing what else to do, I carried him over to the side of the road and placed him under some bushes. I hope he is o.k. I think maybe I just stunned him.

It could have been worse. That little vermin could have caused me to wreck my bike, which recently spent a month in the shop getting a new paint job. If that had happened, well, let's just say I would be on PETA's hit list. As it was, I think we both escaped unharmed.