Committing Pedestrianism

December 20, 2013

I suppose in the interests of strict accuracy, I should report that it’s not always blue skies and gloriously sunny weather here – while yesterday we had lunch sitting in the sun before going on a 3-hour bike ride, today the temperature barely crept above freezing, and we decided it might be time for some of those car-based errands we’d been putting off while the weather was so gorgeous, like going to the grocery store and the giant bookshop and other shops surrounded by acres of parking. And hunting down the mysterious pop-up baklava shop that had no website and appeared to be in an abandoned used car lot, if Google Streetview was anything to go by…

We decided that we’d better do something a little bit active as well, especially if we did find that baklava shop, so we headed down to the riverwalk where you can walk a mile, sponsored by Toyota (the river was actually diverted away from the city centre after it flooded the whole place, but when they wanted to create somewhere for people to walk, they diverted some of it back as long as it promised to behave).

toyota_mile toyota_mile_2

For those who find walking sedately around a glorified duck pond a bit tame, you can always try sprinting across the roads instead…

downtown street

It’s fortunate the drivers around here are mostly pretty patient, but there’s no doubt that round here the car is king. Outside of a tiny historic downtown area, and the mall of course, even parking and walking from shop to shop just feels, well, wrong. Not illegal or anything, but wrong. Well, maybe a little bit illegal if you don’t cross in the crosswalks. If you want to walk and not get funny looks, get a dog. Or stick to the Toyota mile…

Oh and the baklava? We found it in the abandoned used car lot as promised, and it proved absolutely delicious if a little calorific. Looks like we’ll need to do a few more circuits of that riverwalk pretty soon….


Lunch with a View

December 18, 2013

fire towerWe swapped biking for hiking today – although I made the mistake of dressing for the mountains in December, instead of, say, Miami. There’s a bit of a Chinook going on at the moment which means it’s unseasonably warm, even for here. There’s something very odd about picking your way along a snowy path while feeling as if you’re about to broil to death.

We’d stopped at a deli on the way to pick up sandwiches as big as our heads, so having climbed far enough and high enough to put a dent in the resulting calories, all we had to do was find a suitable picnic spot – somewhere with a view. Like the fire tower at the top of the trail…

With uninterrupted views of, well, everywhere, basically.

lunchtime_view2

lunchtime_view

I could get used to this. Actually, I may already have…

pine trees

snowy forest roads


They See Bikes Too

December 15, 2013

I’ll say this for the drivers of Colorado – they have this uncanny ability to see bicycles. Coming up to an intersection on the way down to the river path yesterday I could see a line of cars queuing to turn across my path and started to brake, assuming that even if they did see me they would continue to turn either on the grounds that I was on a bike and thus obviously going too slowly to worry about, or that I was on a bike and thus didn’t matter. But no, as I got to the junction the massive pick up waiting to turn sat there still waiting to turn until I had got safely out of the way. And then on the way back, turning into a petrol station for essential lubricants (chapstick) and fuel (Pearson’s Salted Nut Rolls), the car waiting to pull out waited until I had pulled in. And if you’re reading this waiting for the surprising part of the story, then you haven’t cycled much in any British city.

But it’s not just on the bike. On foot, the cars actually stop when you want to cross the road, even if they are some way away or turning, which is fortunate as it will be at least a week before I can work out which way to look before crossing the road. There’s none of the UK-style game of chicken that you need to play to assert your rights on a zebra crossing where the drivers only grudgingly stop once you’ve stepped out into the road and only then if you pretend you can’t see them and act as if you’re going to walk right across the road in front of them – they just roll to a stop and wait patiently for you to cross, which given the width of the roads around here could be a while. Then again, it may be merely astonishment at seeing someone on foot at all.

And it’s not even just the drivers. Walking through the University campus this afternoon, some young skateboarders were tooling about at the entrance to the building we were headed for. ‘Stop and let these people past’ one young lad admonished his friend before he could launch himself down the steps we were heading for. I don’t know what the youth of today is coming to, frankly. Perhaps they’re just practising for the day when they have cars of their own and can freak the hell out of a visiting UK cyclist by noticing they exist.


I See Bikes

December 14, 2013

It’s an occupational hazard of spending too much time looking at bikes on the internet that I start to notice them everywhere. And I suppose it’s an occupational hazard of being married to me that the other half can’t even spend an innocent layover in Atlanta without having me exclaiming over the airport’s Fire Rescue bikes (and Fire Rescue chaps – confusingly they’re medics, not firemen) and going over to ask if they minded me photographing their bikes (he did take the opportunity to ask them about the best place to eat while we were there). It will come as no surprise to anyone who cycles anywhere at all to learn that the bikes can get to an emergency faster than anything else, nor that even though they have awesomely loud sirens on their bikes (they demonstrated) people don’t get out of the way and get annoyed at the bikes trying to get past. And it will come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog that seeing the bikes was pretty much the only good part of the whole journey.

fire rescue bike

Still, we made it, and we woke this morning to a bright sunny day which rapidly got up to a decent temperature. The bikes in the in-laws’ garage are about to get their annual three weeks of exercise, starting today with a quick trip down the river trail to check that all was in order.

wooden bridge

It was.

blue skies

 


Oh Deer

December 19, 2012

Someone around here isn’t *quite* getting into the Christmas spirit, it looks like

hanging reindeer

I don’t think Santa’s going to be calling at their house in a hurry…

Meanwhile, if you can spot the deer in this picture, you’re doing well. There is one, honest, but for some reason they like to keep themselves well hidden…

spot_the_deer

Storms are forecast for tonight, so we’ve been out enjoying the sunshine while it lasts

winter sunshine


The Only Thing more Tedious…

December 31, 2010

… than sitting through someone’s holiday snaps, is sitting through their plane-by-plane and train-by-train account of their not-after-all disastrous (indeed miraculously but hence rather boringly snag-free) journey home. So I shall spare you the latter and merely inflict the former on you

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The first one, by the way, is not a photo of where a really interesting bird was about 3 seconds before the picture was taken, but is just to remind me of what a properly blue sky looks like. Or indeed, any kind of a blue sky. If today was anything to go by, I’m going to need to keep referring to it until about March.

Here’s wishing you all a fantabulous new year and many more adventures in 2011. I shall be taking my jetlag to bed around about 9:30 so if you guys want to stay up and celebrate, please do so quietly.

Thank you.


In Case of Emergency

December 14, 2010

There’s a town up in the mountains round here that we like to visit. It’s one of the few places in Colorado that I could imagine us actually living in.

I’m not entirely sure why.

Except that it seems to have its priorities right (actual number blacked out to protect the innocent)

And the views in the forests around it don’t hurt either.


The Trail Runs Ever On and On

December 11, 2010

I was on my own today (the other half and his folks having to drive up to Denver to take his grandma to catch her flight) and, left with the choice between sitting at home with my father-in-law’s chocolate chip cookies and going out on the bike, it was no contest: I would take the chocolate chip cookies with me on the bike. Just down the road from where we’re staying there’s a river trail that runs right around into town, and then on and out to the reservoir beyond. I wasn’t quite up for the 36-mile round trip the reservoir would entail, but, it being another beautiful day, I was up for a bit of exploration.


The weather was perfect: crisp and cool and very clear, with no wind and a light scattering of cloud. The ride down to the trail was worryingly downhill all the way but once on the trail it was gently undulating, following the course of the creek. Mindful of the altitude and the need to get back up the hill at the end, I took it at a steady pace. In fact, that was pretty much all my borrowed bike – having spent the last decade or so in the garage – was going to do. We must have looked quite a sight as we travelled down the path together, me in my flat cap and waxed coat, sitting bolt upright, it enjoying its first proper outing in years. The bike had been a little neglected and I could only really get three useful gears out of it and the back brake was purely advisory. But at the stately pace that we were going, it didn’t really matter. And besides, on the trail the only real hazard I was likely to encounter was apparently a rabid skunk.

Oh, and my fellow cyclists. For having stopped on the bridge to take a couple of photos, I heard the familiar whizzing of wheels and clicking of gears. ‘On your left’ they cried and zipped past me as I flattened myself against the parapet of the bridge, fwooom, fwoom, fwoom, all lycra and shades and helmet-mounted cameras. I said good morning but they were going too fast to hear, and besides, I don’t think they recognised me as a fellow cyclist. Clearly, I was but a person on a bike. Or maybe they thought I was about to talk to them about God?

But never mind all that. I could have ridden on forever, lured by the endless trail, but caution prevailed and I stopped at some curiously elaborate picnic tables and had my cookies in the sun and then I mounted my steed and made my way home again with my shadow running before me. By the time I got home I wasn’t even out of breath, and I’m hatching plans now for exploring further afield, and dragging the other half out with me too.

But if it wasn’t for the trail, I don’t know how much cycling I’d want to do around here. The streets around my in-law’s house are fine, enormously wide (I think the road that leads up to theirs is as wide as Big A-road at home) and very lightly used and everything so far has given me a lot of room, even when I was on the right side of the street.* There’s even the odd bike lane painted on some of the roads. But all the other roads are multi-lane monsters and the entry level car around here appears to be a pickup truck the size of our house. Even if I could stick to the proper side of the street, I wouldn’t want to be in amongst more than the lightest traffic and the quietest roads. The rest just looks too scary to be fun. I’ll stick to the trail for now, and take my chances with the rabid skunk.

*There might *ahem* have been one occasion when I found myself cycling happily along on the left. But it was a very empty road, and honestly, anyone could have made the same mistake…


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