Monday, November 23, 2020
The Old South by Two Wheels
Images of the south, as I experienced a reflection on my childhood from the vantage point of being 39. It's almost like a postcard of what the south looks like. In movies, on postcards, in the sensation that I get when I smell the warming of an upland pine forest. This trip, I brought my bike, a partial suspension mountain bike, straight outta Alaska, with tender innertubes and gear to keep me warm. A readjustment was in order: puncture resistant innertubes and a shedding of nearly all extemporaneous clothing. Last week, I spent the day in Tallahassee biking a marathon distance around the FSU campus, Mission Park and then eventually ended up on the Piney Z plantation trails. These are words that are familiar to my ears, yet I saw more of the town than I had before, connecting the distinct areas in a way that both walking and biking provide. I rode into town with my mom, me driving my truck, her alongside in her nursing scrubs. We stopped at McDonald's for breakfast sandwiches and coffee and then dropped her at the hospital, and my truck to stay parked for the duration of her shift. Unload my bike, snap on my pannier and swing on my small backpack and I was ready to go. At first I rode aimlessly, in the general direction of the FSU campus, open to the route as it evolved. I was surprised by how hilly Tallahassee is, even with the highest hills only reaching 200 feet elevation. And yet, they add up. Much like the stairs in Los Angeles. I recall amassing 5k feet one day, walking the 20 mile "F" section of the Inman 300. The temperature meant that I sweated when pounding up the hills, but the breeze and shade allowed it to dissipate when I rested and soaked in the incredible comfort of a mild climate. Tallahassee has evolved it's bikeability since I left twenty years ago. Throughout the day, I was generally comfortable riding both roads and trails, and impressed at the number of connectors and fun bike loops tucked into greenspaces. I had brought along foods for the day, and at one point I sat on a bench alongside a connector trail, eating cold sausage scramble out of a glass jar. When I finished, the sun had reached the point of encouraging sunscreen application. A couple of walkers passed, keeping good COVID distance and even a fellow cyclist. This is not a bad life, I thought, as I saw the recreation opportunities involved right wihin a city that's based around automobiles. Right on time, my mom rolled into the Piney Z parking lot, driving my sweet red T-100 truck. We swooped up and headed out for oysters. My request. She doesn't eat raw food. Yet. And yes, I ate the whole dozen all by myself. There are a few privileges that I indulge when Reed's not around to share.