I had two nemeses on the bike commute from my last house: on the way out, there was a long and seriously steep hill that I just--barely--made--it--up every time. Brutal. And on the way back, at the *bottom* of that hill (which was rather a blast coming down, I gotta say) there was a narrow bridge and the bike lane suddenly disappeared until you got to the other side. Cars were supposed to yield to bikes, but rarely did. I'd try to wait a sec for a gap (and keep in mind that I was usually going over twenty miles an hour at that point, and it wasn't a long bridge, so it wasn't like they had to slow down for long), but inevitably someone would come up behind me going twice the speed limit and decide halfway across the thirty-foot span of the bridge that they really, really, really had to get by me before the other side, even if there *was* on-coming traffic. Had some pretty dicey narrow-misses on that thing. *shudder*
As traffic got heavier and new developments and the road construction to go with them sprang up along the route, that commute became impractical, if not dangerous, to do on the bike, and I reluctantly gave it up.
But now--now I live right on the bike path. Not only that, but essentially my house and my work are at the top and bottom of a big square, with the roads skirting the perimeter while the bike path goes straight up the middle. So the bike route is a shorter distance, and not toooo much of a time difference. It was one of the perks that drew me to my little rental house to begin with.
My new nemeses are much milder. First, there's a six hundred foot section of trail that remains unpaved. It's a pretty little track that winds through a bank of trees and up a slight slope to rejoin the paved trail. It looks idyllic, but it's as though someone set out to give us paved-path wimps a full taste of off-roadin' in those six hundred feet. Deep sand? Check. Sticky mud? Check. Loose gravel, sticks and pinecones, washboarding? Check, check, check. My road bike is more of a touring model than a race bike, or I'd probably have to dismount, maybe even carry it. As it is, it just makes for an interesting time.
And then there's a joyful part where there's a gap in the trail and you have to get across a busy four-lane road. Either you walk the bike a lonnnnng way out of the way (no crosswalks anywhere nearby), or you do as most do: wait for a hole in the traffic, dash for the median, wait for another hole, dash to the other side. It's like a real-life version of Frogger, though at least the median stays put instead of floating downstream.
I have a healthy fear of curbs, having both lost control of a bike as I was wheeling it off one and *seriously* crashed hard trying to get onto one, so I pick up my bike (me in my bike shorts and ginormous white budget helmet) and run with it instead, one side to the middle, the middle to the other side. I'm sure I look like a total goober. Maybe it brings some happiness into some peoples' days, though. "At least I'm not *that* much of a dork..."
On the whole, I prefer the rough trail. Fall-down-go-boom isn't as bad as getting squished.
And I was never very good at Frogger.