California, nature, Ramblings

Biking across the borders of Old Town

I love California winters because I can still take a morning bike ride in shorts and a t-shirt. I’m also slowly realizing that biking may be my saving grace. As Krissy can attest, I tend to get really moody when I don’t feel healthy and active. I have bad knees, so although I enjoy running, it’s not such a good idea. I would love to swim regularly, but we can’t afford to pay $30 or more a month for me to swim. So, I bike – and I’ve learned to love that, too. My bike is amazing – an old blue and white Schwinn Traveler from the 70s. It’s a bit heavier than the modern incarnations of road bikes, but it’s reliable, smooth, and fast.

It is amazing what you miss when you drive in a car. You can drive around and get where you want to go quickly, but you don’t really understand the surroundings in the same way that you do pedaling on two wheels.

I typically bike to the north of our apartment. The roads aren’t as nice and parts of it are uphill, but there is nothing like biking early in the morning past a small Mexican bakery and smelling whatever is being baked, watching tired mothers walking their laughing children to school, or biking past the Argentine meat market and not having a clue what Argentine meat is like. Lawns are covered with colorful flowers and fruit trees. As I bike through, I feel like I am part of the landscape and the community – another color, smell, and face to add to the mosaic of senses. I love the people and the smells – I love this area.

On the way back, I often bike towards the Rose Bowl, entering very wealthy neighborhoods. In this area, children are driven to school, there are no fresh baked goods to smell – only dumpsters and garbage cans pushed into the road away from the beautiful houses that sit a good ways off the road – and I quickly notice that there are no people around. The only faces I see are hidden behind sunglasses and tinted windows. The lawns here are identical – neatly trimmed and sparse. The roads are wide and well paved, allowing a good deal of distance between my old road bike and the expensive foreign cars driving past. In this area, I feel isolated and removed – an intruder without sunglasses to hide behind.

If you really want to get to know your neighborhood or surrounding areas, I don’t know if it’s possible in a car. Bike, walk, or jog through the neighborhoods around you – and leave the iPod at home!

What do you see? Which areas incorporate you as a part of their landscape? What do you smell? Which areas are you an intruder? What do you feel?

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2 thoughts on “Biking across the borders of Old Town

  1. I love this post Dave. So glad the old “traveler” is giving you a meaningful and healthy ride! I used to drag Krissy and Nikki in the burly behind that bike while they yelled “go Mom go!” to get me up the big hills with the drag of them behind. Good days! Great bike 🙂 Maybe you should name her “old blue”.

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  2. Pingback: David Byrne Loves Cities and Rides a Bike (and So Should You) | can't catch my breath

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