Yesterday was a wonderful day for a bicycle excursion after work. So I took my bicycle out on the trail, to find a lot of other people out and about.
Riding a bicycle can be a solo experience, or it can be a very social experience.The difference depends on how social I am, and how focused or social the other people I pass are.
The least social portion of the trip was the first five miles up area streets to get to the trail. Since this was during the start of rush hour, there was a lot of traffic. It could have been more social — in an unpleasant way — but yesterday no one honked horns or screamed obscenities from their window telling me to get to the sidewalk. I was able to ride all the way to the Maple Woods/Happy Rock Trail with my rights of the road as a cyclist respected by the motorists.
It was when coming down the long hill from Wal-Mart to the bridge that joined the main trail that I got my first social experience (or lack thereof). Usually this long slope gets me up to 30 mph and I have to make sure to break near the end before the jag to the bridge to be able to make the turn. But halfway down the hill there was gravel covering both sides of the sidewalk, leaving only a small clear stretch down the middle. In that middle section was a walker listening to her headphones. She must have had the volume way up, because when I started applying my breaks they squealed quite loudly for a long time, yet she never varied her walk or seemed to notice anything besides herself. She barely noticed anything when I rode past and gave her my usual “good afternoon”.
I rode the Happy Rock trail over to Happy Rock Park, where I passed several people, who did respond to my greetings, and then finished my first leg with a visit to the chiropractor’s office at Infinity Chiropractic.
When I finished there I rode back toward the park, but skirted the park, and connected to the trail north of the park and south of Maple Woods College. While cycling around the college I passed several college-aged ladies jogging. They were spread out in singles and groups of 2-3. I assumed they were a running group or cross country team from the college. All of them had good trail etiquette, and we passed nice greetings as they moved to allow me to pass.
I also passed another gentlemen who I recognized from my ride toward the park. He had been headed up the trail before I saw the chiropractor, and was now headed back down, while I continued my course up the trail to the trail head at Barry Road.
From there I worked my way across Barry Road to reach the Line Creek Trail. That included using the nice bicycle lane east of North Oak, and riding without one to cross 169. I did a little north-south riding above Barry to find the new trails there are putting in along 152.
There is a Costco going in on the southwest corner of North Platte Purchase and 152, and on the southwest side of the intersection they have a trail all nicely paved, but unlandscaped, that I found to ride between there and Line Creek Parkway — where it joins up with Line Creek Trail and the rest of the 152 Trail. Well, actually, there were a couple of short stretches where the concrete forms were still on the trail, and I walked my bicycle across the loose gravel and dirt.But I wasn’t the only person using this probably-not-officially-open section of trail. I did pass and greet a couple of walkers coming toward me.
Once I got on the Line Creek Trail, and started heading south, the trail traffic started picking up. Most of the people were regular trail people by the way they greeted and acknowledged me as I passed them. . There were the usual groups of families. Two groups were parents taking their kids out on their cycles with training wheels learning how to ride.
I saw several cyclists. One cyclist in particular, headed south like me, was just ahead of me on the trail. I gained on him fairly easily, but with the traffic heading toward us it took me awhile to pass him. The amazing thing was how after I passed him he seemed to go faster. I never quite got far enough ahead of him to actually get ahead of him, until he turned off at his exit point on the trail. Apparently my passing him was some sort of minor challenge.
Near the 68th St. transition I came upon a cluster of cyclists, including a couple riding a tandem bicycle. I spent about a tenth of a mile lazing along at their tempo talking to them about how easy/fun it was to ride the tandem.
I could go on about the rest of the trip, but it was pretty much the same exchanges, pleasantries, until I exited the Line Creek Trail at Riverside, and started another 5 miles of streets to get home. Once again the traffic was courteous, without insults or blaring horns.
As was stated, a nice fall day for a cycling excursion.