June 25, 2013
This morning I awoke early to clean up my bicycle, lubricate its chain, and pump up its tires. Then I folded down the back seats in my car to expose the hole between the back seat and the trunk, quick-released the bike’s front wheel, and shoved the bike into the trunk with its rear tire sticking into the passenger compartment. I threw in the front wheel, my bike-mounted water bottle, and my helmet. I was ready for my first bike ride in many months.
Mosquitoes and summer heat were the motivators. My recent sunrise walks on the Pathfinder Parkway were rather warm, even in shorts and a light wicking Under Armour shirt, and any pause was punctuated, or should I say punctured, by mosquito bites. My bike would let me generate my own breeze and keep the mosquitoes at bay.
I drove over to Memorial Bridge and parked, pulling out my 21-speed Schwinn Suburban Comfort bike. Its fat Kenda Komfort tires, shock-absorbing fork, comfort riser handlebars, soft saddle, and top tube geometry combine to give me a quite comfortable ride. I put on the front tire, inserted the water bottle, and strapped on my helmet. I thumbed my bike bell to ensure my merry warning was working; it would elicit a laughing grin at least once this morning from a passed Pathfinder Parkway pedestrian.
I biked north and west to Johnstone Park, where the sight of the Caney pouring over the dam lured me to venture out on the narrow pedestrian walkway to cross the Cherokee Avenue Bridge. The concrete bridge deck, suspended from the steel truss, undulated beneath me as heavy trucks roared by and I gazed down at the Caney River as it poured over the dam, flowed across the limestone ledge, and onward toward the rising sun.
I crossed the bridge onto the peninsula formed by the horseshoe bend in the river, the bend across which Nelson Carr built his mill race for what would become Jacob Bartles‘ mill and general store. The city used to operate a tiny RV park here, but it was closed a few years ago. I pedaled down to the riverside, where pathways lead down to the water for fishing.
I enjoyed the view of the river and dam beneath the rumbling bridge. Then I made my way along the deeply worn gravel road west of Highway 123 and recrossed the old bridge on its west walkway. I retraced my path east and south to Memorial Bridge, admiring the wildflowers growing on the Gabels’ acreage south of the Pathfinder Parkway.
I then made the big loop from Memorial Bridge south along the bike path adjacent to Silver Lake Road to First Wesleyan Church and then west and north along the Pathfinder Parkway back to Memorial Bridge. Having biked over nine miles, I stowed my bike in the trunk and headed home, where pleasant pedaling would permutate into premeditated plodding behind the lawnmower. Summer’s here and thank goodness for the Pathfinder Parkway!