Playing hookey

Yesterday dawned…sort of.  More truthfully, the gray got brighter and we caved into calling it “morning”.  I had no great hopes for the day, but it was moderately warm and so I had left the door to the shop open while I worked on the lathe.

But suddenly, around 1100, the project I was working on suddenly got brighter!  I looked up and noticed that the sun had broken though and it was really very lovely outside.  Almost like the first second day of spring or something!  After taking a moment on the stoop, in the sunshine (mostly to convince myself I wasn’t hallucinating), I walked back inside to the lathe.  I looked at the project I had going, then back to the sunshine, then (grudgingly) back at the lathe and decided that it was too nice of a day to waste.

So, I put down my skew chisel and hopped on the bike.  Before you sneer too loudly about the semi-indigent lifestyle of the self-employed, allow me to remind you of some of the benefits of the fully-employed…like a steady paycheck.  Like that great life advice says: “Take what you can, and give nothing back!”

The nearest bike path to me is the Alum Creek Trail, with a trailhead at Innis Park.  I knew more about where the path was in a northerly direction, so I turned south, to see what I could see.  After all, it was a beautiful spring day, with the leaves on some of the trees just starting to push out.  The birds were singing away, even some of the migratory insectivores like a phoebe.  I listened to him while I marveled at all the infrastructure that has gone up in my lifetime.  None of this was here before, and now there are nice new bridges (just for pedestrians and bikes!) all over the place.  I passed over a dozen or so, and not only were they in excellent repair, but none of them were the same.  It was a new experience every time the path wandered over the water.


Other infrastructure of note was that the path was a smooth, paved ride.  There weren’t bad stretches or muddy spots where the trail became excessively notional.  There were benches every now and again, and signs so you didn’t get turned around.  And where you did have to come up for air now and again into motordom’s world, it was obvious that you were in a literal parallel experience, not dodging Buicks.  Check out this (extremely) protected dip under a bridge down on Nelson.  Plenty safe, even for the kiddies.


Most of the time, though, you were within sight of the water (that whole “Alum Creek” idea).  In our city, most of the land that was left undeveloped has been the land along the riverbanks that has this disconcerting tendency to flood.  But this means that it was available in a more or less contiguous ribbon.  By the very nature of the users, most of the heartburn that occasional flooding produces is avoided because cyclists and joggers are a fickle lot by nature and are much more likely to sit on the couch and eat Cheetos than go out and bike in the rain.  Like, ew.  So by the time the skies clear and the Quantum Leap marathon is over, the trail is mostly cleared and no one gets bothered by the watershed oozing over the pavement.

Some spots are more regularly wet, marshlands rather than alluvial plain.  In these sections, the city put in boardwalks rather than pavement, and the water wanders its merry way on to the river unhindered.  This is one of the more scenic areas, so enjoy the rattling under the tyres.


In the end, I ended up at a gas station on Petzinger road, and rewarded myself with a hot dog from the roller grill.  Jolly good job, old bike/knees!  Time to kick back for the afternoon and–


I then realised, to my dismay, that I had traveled twelve-ish miles away from home and now had to return to said home.  Oh, bother…

The journey back, while still picturesque, was not nearly as brisk as the trip out.  Perhaps it was because I looked slower in comparison.  At noon, when I left, it was more or less just me.  However, as I creaked my way home in the early afternoon, I was suddenly buffeted by the slipstream of multi-thousand dollar road bikes pedaled by grim-looking older white corporate guys swathed in Lycra and plastic/foam hats!  Apparently I wasn’t the only one who noticed that it was a nice day, but I got a head start while they had to go change their clothes and drive their bike to the trailhead (saw it!).

Despite the (loudly!) protesting joints, and the occasional whoosh! from a carbon fiber missile, I eventually worked my way back home, doing my best to enjoy the birdsong in the trees and the gentle breeze whispering along with the warm sun and are we there yet?

It really is a nice trip.  If you live in central Ohio, give your greenways a chance.  The Parks and Recreation bubbas have provided a lot of bang for the (levy) buck.  Just remember you have to pedal home.