Yes, Eugene, Oregon, home of the ducks.
And Mama duck was in a jam …
You might have to look at that photo again. Closely. You’ll see that this isn’t just mama duck, but mama duck with two ducklings.
In the bike lane.
On Coburg Road.
Cars, buses and gravel trucks racing past.
Mama was quacking nonstop. She didn’t seem to know which way to go. Occasionally she veered toward traffic. The babies were bouncing around like pinballs. I seemed to freak them out a little more when I came along, but I really didn’t want to see them try to cross the road, so I stopped and got my front wheel between the ducks and the traffic. After some more frantic quacking, mama finally hopped up onto the curb.
I wasn’t sure if the ducklings were going to be able to make it up. I wondered what mama would do if I reached down to try to pop them up onto the curb — or whether I would end up spooking them so that they bolted out into traffic.
But one of the two babies followed mama fairly quickly, flapping his tiny wings and hopping up the curb, which was half again as tall as it was.
The other little guy, though, seemed to be having a little more trouble. And as soon as his sibling was gone, he started squeaking frantically like an old Schwinn Varsity creaking along toward campus. It reminded me of how my 1-year-old starts crying sometimes if you set her down and walk too far away. Crying, I guess, is the first survival skill. (“Hmm. Where did I put that kid?”).
Anyway, I had to roll forward and back a few times to try to block the wayward little fuzzball when he appeared to start heading the wrong way, into traffic. And then finally, I’m happy to report, this little ball of joy was able to muster the energy to hop up the curb onto the sidewalk to join Mama and Sibling.
They waddled off into the bushes. Life’s rough sometimes in the big city.
And speaking of odd crap in the bike lane: There was a lot more detritus than usual in my path on Tuesday — must have been the result of the raucous holiday weekend. Among the many things I noted in the bike lane:
- Broken plastic coat hanger
- Two dead squirrels
- Pedestrian, who steps into the street against the light without seeming to look at all for oncoming traffic. Perhaps he had taken a quick glance for cars, but didn’t notice the guy on the bike coming right at him (through a green light, thank you very much). Finally, he sees me and takes a step backward, back toward the curb. He then proceeds to wave me through, nodding his head — like he’s doing me a favor. Thanks, man!
- LTD bus
- And then this, which I puzzled over as I sat at a red light …
… until it dawned on me what it appeared to be: a string from a bikini.
As I said: a raucous weekend celebrating the eloquent and immortal words of Thomas Jefferson, the birth of America as an independent nation and the freedoms that are fundamental to the existence of such edifying American genius as “Girls Gone Wild.”
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You’re probably wondering how things are going in Le Tour de Milk Crate.
Well. Here’s our photo of the day:
Following a chaotic crash on the treacherously slippery descent of the DeFazio bike bridge into Alton Baker Park, where riders planned to protest the high price of admission to the annual Art & the Vineyard festival, the monstrously strong leader of Team Extend-O-Stem spirits on after boldly taking on a teammate’s milk crate as well as his own — as the teammate, sad to say, suffered race-ending injuries. As Tour rules state, of course, all team milk crates must cross the finish line under bicycle power whether or not all team riders actually make it.
* * *
In other news, my brother took off for France yesterday for a “watch and ride” tour, in which he gets to watch a few stages of the Tour de France as well as ride some of the most storied Alpine climbs in cycling history: Col de la Madeleine, Col du Galibier, Col du Telegraphe, Col de la Colombiere and Alpe d’Huez.
He will be attempting this on training that consists largely of bike commuting to work in terrain in which the greatest elevation rises tend to be man-made. I’ll let you know how this goes as I hear from him, so we all will know whether it is possible to climb the Alpe with no other training than riding your bike to and from work and making multiple laps up and down the ramp at your office parking garage.
* * *
And then there was crazy traffic on Coburg on Tuesday, heading into downtown.
It was backed up from the Ferry Street bridge to the Blockbuster store north of Albertson’s — which also led to the mess on the ramp onto southbound Coburg from I-105. They appeared to be doing some kind of work in the southbound lane of Ferry Street Bridge (Another good day to be on a bike!)