Thursday, April 25, 2013

My First Trek Outside of Downtown

I can't really say that yesterday was the first time I've ridden my bike outside of downtown Springfield, since the actual first time I left the downtown area was when Ginger and I rode the tandem up to Commercial Street on St. Patrick's Day. But I guess you could say yesterday was the first time I've left downtown Springfield on my bicycle alone. You could also say it's pretty pathetic that I've lived in this town for over 6 months now and haven't ridden farther than about 1 mile from home. But yesterday, I had business to tend to at the Mercy Hospital campus, and it was such a lovely day that I decided to travel by bicycle.

I set off from the Jordan Valley Innovation Center on North Boonville and headed south until I reached Elm, then headed east. I hopped over to Cherry and cut through the northernmost side of the MSU campus, then across National and continued east until I reached Fremont. Fremont then took me south all the way to the hospital, so it was a straight shot on a nice, wide, low-traffic street. My total one-way mileage was a little over 3.5 miles, and it took me right around 20 minutes to make the trip.

While I was locking my bike up at the Fremont Building (to a tree because there were no bike racks), I noticed a man sitting on a bench near the front doors of the building who was staring at me. I went in to take care of my business and as I turned to leave, I saw that he had followed me inside, though he was no longer gawking at me. I got back to my bike, unlocked it, and looked over my shoulder at the doors of the building as I was stowing the lock in my panniers. Sure enough, he had followed me back outside. And now he was walking towards me.

It turned out that his interest in me was benign: he wanted to know if I knew anything about bikes and if I knew where he could get a fixie. I recommended Queen City Cycles and gave him directions to their shop. He then asked if I thought they would be able to put a coaster brake on a fixie. My answer to this was something along the lines of, "I don't know, man. You'll just have to go in to Queen City and talk to them." What I left unsaid was that the pure mechanics of putting a coaster brake on a fixie are unsound. I mean, it's called a coaster brake for a reason. You have to be able to coast to make the brake functional. But whatever, I'll let the guys at Queen City break the bad news to him. The man thanked me and left, and I got back in the saddle and headed back downtown, backtracking the way that I had come.

I ended up picking a great day to make this ride for the first time, as it was a mild 50-ish degrees and sunny at around 11:30am when I set out. It was a smooth, easy trip with no issues and hardly any traffic. It's not abnormal for me to end up on the Mercy campus for various reasons, and I'm going to have to make the bicycle my priority method of travel. In fact, it's pretty shameful that it took me this long to figure that out.

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