They creep up on you, often hiding in the camouflage of shade as you pedal along. Or they might lurk just over the crest of a little rise, where you don’t see them until they rattle your teeth. Some are no big deal, just a little shallow patch like a kitchen floor missing a tile. Others, dark chasms disguised as harmless streaks of tar, run parallel to the road and will pull an unwary front tire right out from under you.
Like skunks and spiders, these Epic Potholes of Ellis County multiply in the cold rains of early spring. By summer they have become craters. (The potholes have, not the skunks.) We locals just ride around them. Cyclists from more civilized environs, accustomed to riding in a straight line instead of weaving around like rodeo barrel racers, tend to grumble.
Eventually the holes get deep enough that the highway people decide to “repair” them. In Ellis County, “repairs” amount to a couple of guys driving an asphalt truck around and dropping shovelsful of the lumpy black goop into each hole. For the first week after these “repairs,” the former holes function more as speed bumps. Locals still ride around them; the city guys still grumble.
Then, about the time the asphalt gets flattened enough so that cyclists can ride in a straight line instead of weaving around like rodeo barrel racers, we get the Late Summer Rains. The new asphalt miraculously dissolves, leaving the road even bumpier, if possible, than before. The locals tighten their cables and trace new “safe routes” along the roads, sort of like people living in a minefield, or that guy in “Hound of the Baskervilles” whose property was surrounded by quicksand. The city guys step up the grumbling or go back to ride in more civilized environs.
I’m thinking of taking up barrel racing.
Next: The Evil Chip-Sealers