Have you ever wondered what the real meaning of the signs that say "Bike Path Ends" is? I mean, what are you supposed to do when you see this sign? If the sign weren't there you would just continue riding on the road, right? So what do you do differently when you see the sign? Enough questions; Let's get on with this month's column, which I expect will win the council's new award for best trip report of the year.
I said last month that I would tell you about my winter vacation. Last November 1, I was riding on the bike path that goes through the park about a mile from my house. You know, one last ride before hanging up my bike for the season. It was a gray drizzly day. The bike path was covered with leaves and the deeper patches were wet. It was the sort of day that encourages me to hang up my bike for the season, since sliding on wet leaves is not my kind of fun. There were some six year old boys out there, too. They were having a great time trying to spin their bikes completely around in the wet leaves.
I headed out of the park towards home. As I left the bike path for the road, a car started honking behind me and then swerved around me and parked at an angle to block my path. The driver (a big Norski waving ski poles) got out, hopping mad and yelling somehting about a sign he said I had disobeyed. He grabbed me by the arm and pulled me back onto the bike path where he triumphantly pointed to a sign saying "Bike Path Ends." I asked what he thought the sign required me to do.
"Ya sure, not to pedal your bike onto the street, sonny."
"Look, the law says I can ride on the street. In fact, I could ride on the street right next to a bike path if I wanted to." About this time the six year olds came riding past and rode right under the sign on their dirt bikes. They vanished.
"See! Dot's vot you're supposed to do." yelled the Norski. I was in a state of shock. He shoved me toward the same spot where the kids had vanished. A moment later the sun was shining and scenery had all changed from a tree-lined Minneapolis park to a barren desert. The six year olds and the Norski were nowhere to be seen. My bike suddenly appeared beside me and I supposed the Norski must have thrown it after me.
I picked up my bike and stepped cautiously back towards the point where I thought I and the bike had come from. My mind was spinning its wheels trying to understand what had happened to me. I thought at any minute I would hear "Dee doo dee dah" and Rod Serling's disembodied voice would say that I had entered the Twilight Zone.
I had taken five steps in what I thought was the direction the bike had come from. It seemed like that was probably twice as far as I would have to go if I were somehow going to be able to reappear in the Minneapolis park. I was starting to think about how to walk in a systematic pattern to search for the 'doorway' when a wadded up piece of paper appeared within an inch of my nose and fell to the ground.
I unwadded it and read: "Goodbye 'til next spring, Dr. Fixit," and it was signed "Coach Knute."
Then I heard it. "Dee do dee dah. Dee do dee dah. There are many road signs in the Twilight Zone. Dr. Fixit has just learned the real meaning of the sign that says 'Bike Path Ends.'"