So we are officially into July now, and I spent the day today riding my bike around Minneapolis and exploring. I’ve been here about 19 months now, and still find there’s lots of really cool stuff to ride around and see and discover. Riding around a city and finding all of its hidden gems (or at least some of its hidden gems) is one of my all time favorite things to do and that’s just what I did.
After about three hours of riding (on a beautiful 80 degree, sunny, dry day) I decided to head home. I looked around, figured out (roughly) were I was, and put together the fastest route home. That route happened to be lots of bike paths, and trails and lanes. As I was heading in the direction of the Minneapolis MidTown Greenway (http://midtowngreenway.org/) I wondered to myself why it had been so long since I took this familiar route. Why was it that I was riding mostly neighborhoods lately. Then I got the Greenway, and I remembered.
Remember that Movie “Clerks”, it has that famous line in it, “this job would be great if it wasn’t for the fucking customers.” That was why I had started avoiding the paths. As the summer ramps up, more and more people are on bikes (which is great, right?). Most of those people only ride on sunny, warm days, so they get a bit nervous around traffic: this nervousness results in them sticking to the bike paths/lanes/trails, which results in those spaces being much more crowded than ever, which results in me wanting to kill everyone in the world. Not only do they fill these spaces, but they also fill them with an utter lack of understanding how those spaces are to be used. They travel in packs, sometimes four across, and never move over when traffic is coming from the other way.
I’m going to stop myself from going on a full rant about that, suffice to say, that this all has me riding on the back streets and taking trafficy routes that the throngs of other riders might avoid.
One of the things I find interesting about this, is that I do the opposite in the winter. In the winter I stick to routes that have been cleared of snow and ice, and thank the maker, I live in a city that keeps it’s bike lanes/trails/paths clear year round. That means I use these routes in the winter, because my fun neighborhood cut-throughs have thick bits of ice and snow that make me fall and hurt my boom boom.
I ride my bike all year, and in the winter I get used to having the place to myself (sure there are others, but in a city this size, you don’t see many of them), then in the summer I get used to finding places that still make me feel like I have them all to myself. It’s not as easy, but the pay off is killer.
The other trade off is that in the summer when I stop under a bridge to have something cold to calm my nerves, I can watch people on their bikes ride by. Cuz bikes are cool. I really do love them, and when I watch the people ride (whom it annoys me to ride, beside/behind/whatever) I can appreciate the activity and the bike. Plus I love the look on people’s faces when they ride by me guzzling a beer on the side of the path, under a bridge. It’s a perfect combination of, “you’re not allowed to do that,” mixed with, “I hope that fat dude doesn’t assault me,” with just a smidgeon of, “hell, why didn’t I think of that.” Some of them I won’t see again until next summer, but others I’ll find under this bridge in January with their own bag of beers.
Maybe they’ll give me one.