When I mentioned to my sister-in-law my volunteering in support of bike commuting in Seattle she joked that she was glad I didn’t have anything more serious to worry about. All in good fun of course. But when I mentioned my plans to join my friend and longtime Caracas resident John Trum for a ride in Caracas, she didn’t think that was such a good idea. And she is an avid cyclist, she just bikes away from traffic. And no wonder, the traffic is heavy; Caraquen~os can be unpredictable and they take a lot of chances behind the wheel.
But John rode in town regularly and I was up for it, so one morning when it was threatening rain, off we went. One thing I noticed right away was that the high octane gasoline in Caracas is thicker in the air. The other thing was … it was pretty much like biking in downtown Seattle. You move as fast as the cars do, and at that speed, as long as they see you, they really don’t want to hit you. Another thing was different; in the humid tropical heat, I quickly worked up a profuse sweat with minimal effort.
We rode east side neighborhoods close to El Avila, the mountain front national park that runs along the north side of Carcacas. Once I shouted at a driver who was backing up to let him know I was behind him. He turned around and said “hey, you’ve got to shout louder than that”, and then smiled.
As John and I coasted down a hill, he told me, “be careful, half a manhole cover is missing up ahead”. I saw it and thought if you hit it at say 20 mph, it could be catastrophic. The pavement was often in appalling condition, but Seattle’s streets aren’t all that good either. Once, as I motioned John to pass to lead me through a turn up ahead, he said, “don’t do that, you’ll confuse the drivers”, but generally, they seemed to be properly cautious around us.
We shot a few photos on John’s cel. but somehow they got lost. So, I attach a photo of an art piece from the new Los Galpones art center in Caracas.