Wednesday, September 22, 2010

7.8 miles to work and 35 miles to get back home...

When I was a boy, driving to visit relatives in other states was how we spent family vacations. My dad being in the Air Force, we seldom lived closer to relatives than a short 12 hour drive. In my restless boy's mind, the trip home was always more than twice as long as the getting there, especially when we lived in Florida and drove up to North Carolina for a few days at a time. I-95 is monotonous, but after seeing the huge oaks and the antebellum houses in the Carolinas, the return to the drab stucco homes that waited for us in Florida removed all desire to see the next mile marker...

Tuesday morning, I had a workshop at the Region XI Educational Service Center, just a couple of exits south on I-35W from North Loop 820. My wife needed the car, so I was left to set up a last minute carpool with one of my colleagues, or attempt to cycle my way down there. I used Google Maps and plotted a bicycle route and realized that it was only 7.8 miles to the workshop if I chose the route that would take me through the Diamond Hills neighborhood. I decided to go for it, believing the hardest part of the trip would be the stretch of Blue Mound Road I'd have to negotiate with all its morning traffic.

Sure enough, Blue Mound Road was dicey. Near Saginaw High School, there's very little shoulder, and only two lanes to handle the thousands of vehicles that line up on their way to work. As the road widens to four lanes, the shoulder seems even narrower and I tucked my elbows in tightly to keep from getting snagged by a rearview mirror. Each storm drain opened like a pitfall, threatening to throw me down into oncoming traffic. Broken glass and sheet metal screws and other rough debris crunched under my road tires and I feared the flat that would slow my commute even further.

Once past North Loop 820, Blue Mound became a two lane road again, with extra wide shoulders to accomodate the occasional semi rig that needs to park on the side of the road by the many warehouse and industrial facilities. At this point in my ride, I was able to take a breath and enjoy the sun rise.

Soon, I was in the neighborhood. Some would emphasize the last syllable in the word, but despite all I've heard about the Diamond Hills neighborhood, I saw people out on the sidewalk, talking amiably to their neighbors, I saw old homes landscaped with heirloom flowers, and I saw children walking and riding bikes to school. I heard a chicken or two, and I did see a loose pit bull roaming the streets, but all-in-all, I found the morning ride pleasant and peaceful once away from the hubbub of the heavy traffic lanes.

I arrived an hour ahead of schedule, which was ample time for me to do the bird bath and paper towel rub down to try to deal with the sweat of the morning exercise, and I was energized and ready to listen to our presenter and learn the skills I was supposed to learn...

When the workshop ended, I realized that I was done about an hour earlier than I had expected, so, instead of retracing my earlier route, I took the scenic one, and ended up in Saginaw only after seeing the better part of the Trinity Trails, the Arts District, the Burton Hill area, Riverbend, Samson Park, and so forth and so on...

I'm addicted to pedaling, it seems, and when given the choice of retracing my path or blazing a new one, I always choose the latter. And like those boyhood roadtrips, I often find the return home to be twice as long as the getting there.


  1. Woah, September 22nd? It has been a while.

  2. Gotta find a new gig so I'll have more energy for writing at the end of the day!