A little over a month ago I asked for help getting me back on a bicycle, and you guys did. (Thanks!) Since then I’ve been biking three or four times a week, usually taking Kiddo#2 for the first two laps around Angelborough Loop, then doing three or four more by myself, for a total of five or six miles per trip.
It’s been fun. I hope heaven has bicycles.
On Friday, my Patient Husband went for a Long Bike Ride, exploring alternate routes to get to his job, and when he returned, he suggested I go out. I’d had my eye on the trails at Angelborough Park, so I brought my bike there for “a long explore.”
1) I didn’t want to ride on the state route, even though it was practically empty, so I crossed on foot at the cross-walk, took the unpaved part of the road up to the park, and entered through the parking lot rather than the main entrance. Fortunately, my bike is a boy’s 24″ dirt bike rather than a bike built for racing or Teh Prettie, so it handled the dirt and the ruts with no problem. I meant to walk from the parking lot to the trail head, but I biked through the grass and discovered grass is stupidly tough to bike through. But I did it.
2) The trail is mostly grassed-over with a thin strip of dirt, which I was able to manage. When I exited the trail at the other side of the park (which I’d never seen before, by the way) I found myself on a road I know, just at a part I’d never been on. I turned north (away from home) and pedaled up to where it met a bigger road, and the bigger road took me…out on to the state route which I’d avoided before.
The busiest part of the state route. With about four inches of shoulder.
Well, there was nothing for it. The website on how not to get hit by a car says being hit from behind is the least of your worries, so I pedaled along on the white line and hoped for the best. No one killed me. When I reached the park entrance again (from the north side this time) I went back into the park, back to the trail head, and this time I took a different part of the trail.
3) when I reached the creek, I had to dismount. I thought about turning back, but I walked a little way, decided to press forward, and went back for my bike. I discovered it is stupid to try biking over tree roots. I was on the outer perimeter of the park again, and I could see the road, but there was a rock wall between us.
4) then the path veered off into never-never land, and I found myself facing deep puddles, mud, and plank bridges (which I walked the bike over.) The trees had overgrown the plank bridges in places, meaning I left the things alone and squished through less-muddy areas. And there were places the plank bridges really were the only way through, and they rocked like crazy beneath my feet. If I hadn’t had the bike to lean on in parts, I’d have gotten soaked.
5) I met a dog coming through the woods, wondered if he’d attack, and then the owner showed up. I asked, “Does this come out anywhere?” and he told me yes, just keep going. And shortly, yes, it did come out into the open, very near where I’d exited the park the first time.
6) I emerged back onto the familiar road, went south this time, took it to where it meets the unpaved portion of my home road, and took that home, avoiding all the ruts and terrible puddles until it was paved again.
7) And all along, I kept feeling, “This is your spiritual life. You don’t really know where you’re going, but you also know you aren’t lost. You can’t turn back. You know you’ll come out of it eventually. There are bugs that eat you if you stop, so you have to keep moving. You’ve only met one other person along the way, but he gave you directions. It’s hard work, but you’re doing it.”
My husband’s $$ bike would have sobbed at the punishment mine took without a blink. My bike with its thick tires, it’s smaller frame, and its shock absorbers simply took the road and held it. For all that I went over tree roots and through puddles and mud, I never tipped over. The bike did everything I could ever have asked it to.
It was very much an awesome bike ride, and I didn’t want it to end. I have no idea how far I explored, only that I can never do that route again because if I do, I’ll already know the way.
Thank you, that was a great way to start my week.
I so desperately want to get my mountain bike out on the trails now after reading this… Especially now that the high waters are receding! 🙂
Long ago I used to spend my summers in Southern New Jersey. I would bicycle seven miles to a little pond known as “Lily Lake”. It wasn’t much of a destination, but it was a good enough excuse. It was great to ride for about five of those miles through “the Pine Barrens” and to hear the birds, see the occasional deer or fox, and zoom along thinking great thoughts of nothing at all. Sometimes I would create music in my head… once even trying to compose a symphony.
Sometimes a little chihuahua would come out barking and try to bite me on the heels, I still hate those dogs.
Now, that road is fully developed and the woods are barren of wild life. Time marches on, but the memories of those bike rides are still vivid.
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