What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

29 February 2012

A Plan Whose Time Never Was

I've mentioned that I'm a cyclist, yes? (Short pause for you to roll your eyes at me.) Well. I'm actually a lazy cyclist. You see, my apartment is at a lower elevation that the University of Texas. Which means, when I go to school every morning, those rolling hills that I ride on are more up than down. And the first of them is the worst: No matter which way I go from my house (and I've tried every possible direction), I have to go up a massive, steep hill at about a mile into the ride. So, a lot of days, I take the bike to a bus stop, let Capital Metro take me over those quad-smashing verticals, and get off near the university.

Here's the real problem: The only way to make the hills not hard is to do it every day. After a day or two  of taking the bus, the hills are that much harder to deal with.

My homeland: Greenfield, Indiana.
Obviously taken in the summer; in the
winter, it's more like Whitefield (when
it's snowing) or Brownfield (when it's
not) or Gloomyfield (when it's cloudy).
So, while reflecting on this the other day, I caught myself longing for the relative flat of my homeland, and in the middle of my imaginings, I thought, "I wish I had ridden my bike to school when I was in high school."

Reality check: 1. My parents would never have allowed such a thing. I'm sure my father is still losing sleep over me being a commuter cyclist, even though I've been one for years. 2. It's freezing in Indiana. I maybe would have had three months of the school year (August, September, May) of riding, and then only if the Snow Miser had pity on me and backed off a bit. 3. My hometown is conducive to cycling in many ways, but the county roads I would have had to ride on for at least half of my journey are not. They're narrow and drivers zoom along them much too fast.

But never mind those minor details! I raced over to my friend, Google Maps, and asked for cycling directions from my parents' house to my high school. This is what it gave me (if you're a stalker who's been waiting for me to reveal my parents' location so you can cause them harm, please avert your eyes):

The Google Maps Route.
Here's where the details stop being minor and start being kind of important. You see, this route follows the Pennsy Trail, which is indeed the best possible way for getting across town (the line parallel to Main Street). Unfortunately, the trail wasn't built until after I moved away; it's a Rails-to-Trails project (Pennsylvania Railroad -> Pennsy Trail), but when I was in high school it was just weeds-where-rails-used-to-be.

My favourite part of the Pennsy Trail. I've run there a
couple of times. It's fabulous, and I really wish it had
been there when I lived in Indiana!
So, it's nice to think about what it would have been like to be a commuter cyclist in high school, but it really would have been impossible, even if I had had this bright plan 20 years ago. I'll have to content myself with living in the here and now, which happens to be Austin in 2012, a place with plenty of trails, bike lanes, and steep hills to challenge myself with. No time travel required, but it may be time to lose the lazy.

What's something that makes you wonder, "Why didn't I ever _____?" Would it really have been feasible, or is it just happy imaginings for you?


Tim said...

sorry, but I had to roll my eyes at your characterization of the campus area having any steep hills

but the word steep is like the word safe...all relative

Hart Johnson said...

I'm in Michigan and would LOVE more hills, though my walk to work and back does hav some. nothing like the Pacific Northwest though. I'm not a huge cyclist, but I had a time I sort of had to be--I lived about 4 miles from work and worked until after the buses stopped. That hill on the way home killed me after a third beer--sopped ALL my stamina. i wish I'd learned to appreciate regular exercise in high school though--life would have been much improved.

Su said...

@Tim: Not campus... near my house. I don't live near campus.

@Hart: It's too bad you either get all the hills or none. :/

Karen Peterson said...

I think about this kind of thing all the time. If I had just started eating better back then, I'd be healthier now. If I'd gone back to school for my Masters degree a in 2006, I'd be finished by now. I do this to myself constantly.

Good luck conquering those hills!

Su said...

Oh, me, too. I have the "Why didn't I do college like regular people?" moment at least once a week. And thanks!