Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Everything good always would remain...

If it isn't obvious enough, the answer to my "Guess where I rode my bike on Monday" question from yesterday is: Every village center.

I'm not quite sure what motivated me to do it, but I say that about a lot of things. It's cliché (and likely not true), but Mallory's "because it is there" works for me.

So, how about some trip details?

Total mileage: 37.

Starting and ending at my house in Oakland Mills, the path I took was basically a counterclockwise loop around Columbia, with Long Reach as my first stop (the pictures in the post below are in chronological order). I tried to stay on the paths as much as possible and because of this, a map is absolutely essential (and I still managed to take a couple wrong turns).

Total Time elapsed: Five hours.

Riding time: Three hours and 45 minutes.

Aside from stopping to take pictures and a half hour for lunch, I didn't really take many breaks. What killed my total time was the fact that I had to fix a flat after, of all things, a wood chip along the non-paved Wilde Lake lake path pierced through my rear tube. That was annoying.

So, I averaged about 10 miles per hour, which is less than I average when normally riding along Columbia's paths but more than my usual mountain biking average. And I'd like to remind all you road riders that that was 10 mph on a mountain bike with knobby tires along paved trails and roads.

Road mileage: 10.

This is how much of the trip required riding on roadways, almost all of which had sidewalks. If you subtract the long sidewalk-less trek along Grace Drive to get to River Hill, the total road mileage would only be about four or five miles. Not too shabby. (Cutting out River Hill entirely from the Tour des Villages puts the entire circuit at about 30 miles.)

Degree of tiredness (out of 10): 6.

I was actually surprised with how good I felt at the end of the day. Yes, I ride frequently and this one certainly wasn't the longest ride I've ever done, but I imagined myself being more worn out because of the hills, the relatively uncomfortable mountain bike riding position and the fact that I'm not as in shape now as I was when I went on longer rides in the past. On the whole, I'd say anyone in reasonably good shape with a decent bike could handle this ride in a day without any problems. Those in worse shape might want to pick a side (east or west) as a start.

New insights gained: A few.

First, Columbia is probably one of the best places in the country to be a bicyclist. Over 100 miles of pathways in and around our city make it possible to get almost anywhere without having to share pavement with cars.

Although I think it's something kids who've grown up here know intuitively, this needs to be repeated again and again to adults: A bicycle is a viable transportation alternative in Columbia. Sure, you can't live your life exactly as you do now, but minor changes can make cycling as efficient, if not more so, than driving (often, the paths offer shorter distances between destinations than roads, as is the case with my commute to work).

An example of a minor behavioral change: Buy one of those cheesy baskets for your bikes and make a few small trips to the grocery store each week rather than one big 'un. You'd be surprised how much stuff you can cram on the front of your handlebars.

Second, the trails on Columbia's east side are way better than those on the west side. This is not even worth arguing about.

Third, Hickory Ridge is an awesome village center. They got all kinds of neat restaurants. Too bad it's one of the worst from a connectivity-to-paths perspective. Might as well surround it with a moat.

Fourth, why is it that the fancy villages (River Hill and Dorsey's Search) are completely disconnected from the rest of Columbia? Also, since both lack Columbia mailing addresses, do they really count? That's a joke, but seriously, how do residents of those villages feel? Do they like the separation?

OK, now it's your turn to get out there. Don't forget your map!


FreeMarket said...

I am planning a similar tour. What could be better than riding around Columbia’s trails on a beautiful Spring day?

John B. said...

As a former Dorsey resident, I always hated the lack of trail connection. I biked all the time, but rarely outside the village since I don't believe you can legally cross 108/29, and since biking along Columbia Road isn't a lot of fun.

Now that I'm in Owen Brown, it's a whole new ballgame and I think I'll follow your path at some point!

John B.

Columbia Talk said...

I dropped off the ozone depleter for service today in River Hill and biked back to Oakland Mills. For starters, my "routine" service is going to cost more than my bike did new! The trip itself took 49 minutes. Driving there took roughly 15 minutes, so if you consider I skipped my morning jog, the bike trip cost me nothing in extra time.