Sunday, October 5, 2010. 75°, mid-morning. Blue, blue sky. And Bruce Peterson needed Mississippi Market produce.
It was a nice day for a bicycle ride.
Bikes were a means of transportation for Bruce. He didn’t wear colors or bicycle shorts. His bikes were always crusty but trusty.
His loyal, green, 90s touring bike stood at the ready. Tires no thicker than his thumb. No battery packs like now. Twin, back-wheel wire baskets. And 10 shiftable speeds awaiting his feet.
Bruce puts on his helmet, “high-ho-silvers” onto the 10 speed and heads out.
Today’s route to Mississippi Market would be scenic. Through Crosby Park and literally along the Mississippi River bank. But first he weaves through Upper Town. West from he and his wife, Amy’s Banfil’s, home, south on 7th to western. And then, just beyond the Keg and Case, the St. Paul Bike Path where it hugs Shepard Road another mile, until just beyond the underpass at 35E. There he descends into the Crosby Park scenic branch of the bike path into the river bottom forest and marsh of the Mighty Mississippi.
The scenic path does not disappoint.
Asphalt first. Bruce can smell the beauty. Cottonwoods, Red Pines, Ash. Some Oak and Maples.
August and early October had been wetter than usual. The undergrowth was lush.
Closer to the river, Bruce swings onto a beauty of a dirt tributary of the path. He’s 6 feet above the water. There’s no beach here.
Bruce vividly remembers what’s next…
He’s smoothly rolling along, enjoying the warm weather and he sees the earth in front of him start to open up. He’s still biking, the soil breaks around him and the ground gave way like “the calving of a glacier.”
He never let go of the bike handles. He and the bike free fall and tip into the water 6 feet below. He repeats, “we (Bruce and bike) are falling into the river!”
Then they are five feet deep, helmet still in place, underwater. Upside down!
Bruce doesn’t remember how he righted the ship but he was off the bike holding onto it with one hand. The river bottom was silty and sinking.
A big cruise boat of waving (cheering?) passengers passed fifty yards out. Bruce was ok. And they evidently thought so too because they kept on a-going.
Bruce said his “yoga-breathing must have kicked in” and he was able to grab a large tree root and with one arm flop the bike onto “terra-somewhat-firma.”
The rest of the tale Bruce admits was just perfunctory. Even though he was able to walk the bike out of Crosby covered in gray mud looking like “the creature from the black lagoon.”
He did a face-to-face with a dog-walking woman. They all sidestepped each other and kept going. She appeared unnerved but uninterested. Bruce was ok with that.
Back home, there was no one home. He hosed down the bike, showered and got into clean clothes. And got back on his bike and rode his slightly whiny,
wheeled appliance straight down 7th Street to Mississippi Market.
It was a spectacular day for a bicycle ride.