My first bicycle diary entry

Writing and bike riding have grown to be two of the most important things in my life. Today I will begin to combine those two.

In 2006, I embarked on the Michigander bike tour with a friend that will be my maid of honor. In the last four years, I've ridden just over 2,000 miles to date on my bike that somehow she talked me into buying. That's 800 in 2006, 600 in 2007, 425 in 2008, only 225 in 2009 and so far I have 204 this year. I will add another 300 to that when I complete the Michigander in a couple weeks. Cycling has been a delight.

Recently a friend of mine recommended the Bicycle Diaries by the Talking Heads' David Byrne. It's a trek through some of his worldly adventures on his bicycle. He is so entertaining and thoughtful. He shares rich histories of the cities he rides through. The observations he makes in the book make me more aware when I'm riding my bike. This will be my first entry into my own bicycle diary.

I've written in many diaries over the years. In fact, I wrote about the first Michigander in 2006. But Byrne's book has given me direction and motivation to write about my rides. He included pictures in his book, which makes me want to include more visuals to accompany my writing. The book also changed my bike riding experience. I'm more attuned to the environments that I ride through, more interested. I take it all in like it's new and if it is not new, I go somewhere else. Today I road my bike from Southfield, MI to Ferndale, MI. The round trip was about an hour and a half and 16.5 miles.

My goal was to attend the community preview event at the NEW Ferndale Public Library. The new space is absolutely fantastic and will be used well in that community. I heard some live music, chatted with buddies and took in the building's beauty. These are times when money is tight, so its a small victory to have one of the newest buildings in a great neighborhood be the library.

In Southfield, I took Lahser to 9 Mile Road and took that all the way to the library. The address is 222 9 Mile Road, Ferndale, MI. It was interesting to watch the streets change as I road neighborhood to neighborhood. Southfield was fine and the traffic on 9 Mile was not bad. Oak Park was full of cobblestone paths and strange parking in front of the stores. They were like streets, but not really and I had to heed the cars backing up on either side of me. It wasn't exactly awesome for biking. Yet it was better than Southfield's magical disappearing sidewalks. This trip, though, the sidewalks on 9 Mile got the job done.

A quick word on why I'd be biking on sidewalks - I don't want to die. People in Southeastern Michigan are still getting used to more bikers on the roads. I applaud the bikers that are out there doing it, but it is still quite dangerous to bike around here. I go on the street when I feel it's safe: rarely.

I passed Ferndale's welcome sign and before long the streets started getting busier with people and a little more narrow. I knew I had arrived somewhere near Woodward. The library was just a block or so beyond Woodward. I was slow going on the sidewalk because they have these giant light posts right in the middle. I'm looking forward to more bike lanes in Michigan.

After I was done at the library, I decided to go north on Woodward and take a different way home - the freeway! OK, so I actually just took the sidewalk that ran next to I-696, but it was great. Not a soul for miles, nice pavement and just a hum of traffic through my news podcasts. I'm sure breathing that crap was no picnic for my lungs, but I was still glad I took it.

Oak Park and Southfield both have an interesting mix of people, but sort of the same mix. Both cities have significant Jewish and African American populations. Before I knew it, I was no longer next to the freeway, but somehow I got belched up on 10 mile, which was an easy cruise home, but with much more pedestrian traffic. There were many Jewish folks that must have just finished with their worship and were walking around the neighborhood.

It was a little cloudy, but I could still tell the sun was setting over my home, Southfield. Every now and then the mini skyscraper would poke over the streets. I thought of my evening and was glad.


Kelly said...

Thank you for attending! I love your pictures.

Katherine Bryant said...

Eva! Your blog came up in my Google Alert for Southfield Public Library. What a great post and great pics! It was good to see you on Saturday - I'm sure I'll see you again soon. Good luck with your cycling :)

Sally said...

I bike once a week from Ferndale to Southfield for work. I'd do it everyday, but I find it incredibly stressful with all the crazy drivers yelling at me to get on the sidewalk. How I wish we had more bike lanes!

Anywhos, if you do that again, try taking Oak Park Boulevard - it's basically a straight shot from Southfield to Ferndale. It'll be Mt. Vernon in Southfield, and then it turns into Oak Park Boulevard. It's residential most of the way and you can ride on the street without too many crazies trying to kill you. The other pleasant option is to take Lincoln through to Huntington Woods and then take Scotia south to 9 Mile. Or you can go through Huntington Woods to the zoo! Free views of the camels if you bike around the back near the Rackham golf course!

Both of those routes are a little prettier than just taking 9 mile or the 696 access road.

Happy riding! If you ever see a gal on a black Electra Amsterdam, that's me!