Suburban trekking

Facing the temporary loss of my automobile, I decided to hoof it from the repair shop to my home, a distance of about two miles. The temperature was around thirty degrees, which is brisk but not really hopelessly daunting at the end of winter. It's almost T-shirt season out there. Besides, I thought, I can get a little exercise and see my town in a new way.


I encountered the first obstacle when a series of inter-linked parking lots abruptly ended in several house-sized mounds of snow. The leavings of an entire winter's worth of snow-plow jobs, they stood directly in my path like some temporary series of Andes. The various layers of freeze and thaw have left the mounds soft in some places, hard in others, without a reliable way to gauge visually. I couldn't go around them because they abutted the building on one side and a very busy road on the other. Nothing for it. After a quick request for divine oversight from Sir Edmund, I was on it. I took one minor spill and learned the knack of climbing it, leaving a more compacted trail across for the next idiot.

It's not a comfortable sensation to live in America without a car. The infrastructure of roads, drainage, maintenance, and access are all predicated on our century old infatuation with the automobile. And, while there are summer amenities for bicycles and pedestrians, there is no budget for it in winter. You're pretty much on your own.

I next came to a wide expanse of parkland. I foolishly thought that this would be easier because of its virginal nature. There were no tracks in the snow. Now there is one set. One fool walked across that expanse, all winter. It was covered in about fifteen inches of snow, which I won't attempt again without snow shoes, skis, or teams of dogs.

I was beginning to get into the central part of town. Here the going was much easier, from alley to parking lot to sidewalk to street to railway right of way to courtyard to cobblestone, brick, or packed gravel. There is a seemingly endless variety of surface coverings, and a very direct route home if you're not too fussy about property lines. Which is really the crux of any itinerary. Where are you allowed to go and when? It helps if you are making the expedition prior to business hours.

Home was most welcome. It took about forty-five minutes, and I'll likely have to do it again this afternoon. I can't wait.

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4 Responses to Suburban trekking

  1. june says:

    I don't have a car anymore and I can ride my bike almost all year 'round, but I don't fool myself, I know that's an option open to very, very few people. I'm lucky to live in an area that lacks scary temperature extremes.

  2. jaklumen says:

    It's sometimes worse outside of suburbia, out in the emerging cities.I am from Eastern Washington state. Urbia/suburbia are visited, not really experienced (i.e. yes, we are the clowns vacationing in Seattle or what have you). We have suburbs, but they are nothing like their metro counterparts west of the Cascades.So summer amenities are fewer and farther in between, to be exact.

  3. Doug says:

    There are some intrepid individuals around here that ride all year, but not too many. Drivers are somewhat less than courteous to cyclists when the weather is good, but when the weather is bad it's much worse.

  4. Doug says:

    I've noticed that too. The farther away from the city centers, the fewer options for transportation there are. If you're far enough from town a broken car can be life-threatening.

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