Saturday, May 2, 2015

In Which I Become a Hobo Near Coe

Who suggested the pre-ride selfie? Actually, it was not me, it was one of the women. Come to think of it, they were the ones who wanted to ride bikes to the baseball game. Clearly I have been misled by the dos equis chromosome once again.

I broke the law on the final day of April in 2015.

Well, I think that “broke the law” is a pretty minor technicality, and what I did, I hope, won’t cause anybody to bat an eyelash more than once. But I did transgress from the straight and narrow while acting as an adult in a group of college students.

I may need some work on my “adult” skills.

Anyway, on Thursday the MMU Bike Club took its second ride. On the first ride, there were just three of us. Numbers swelled for the second ride, with two women, anxious to see an MMU baseball game that was being played that night, joining two men of the club and an old professor, primarily because they (the women) wanted to pedal to that ball game.

Another pre-ride picture. I actually took this one first, before someone said, "We could take a selfie."

Beware: I had my camera and some time to kill while they checked out bikes. There will be flower photos.

Anyway, a few minutes after 5, we—me and four university students, the aforementioned two men and two women—took off. I didn’t know where the MMU-Coe game was played, and neither, it became obvious, did the students. Because they knew the ball field was “near Coe,” but not at Coe.

Here, there be gears. Lundy Commons where students can check out bikes.

So our only idea was to go to Coe and to get there via the Cedar River Trail.

The flaw (and minor infraction of the law) comes from the fact that, while the Cedar River Trail, Cedar Lake and Coe College all exist in close proximity, there is no obvious direct connection between Coe and the other two places.

We rode down to the lake, and at my suggestion (I admit it) turned left to head counterclockwise around the lake, hoping to find a street that leads to Coe. We came to a stop sign at a dead end road that seemed to lead where we were going. And the students and I took off down that road.

Red-bud tree near Lundy before our ride. Beautiful afternoon for a crime or a bike ride.

It occurred to me after the turn that we weren't on the trail, nor even on a street, anymore. We were on a dirt path worn beside multiple rail tracks. We were hobos trespassing on railroad property, a group of wandering vagabonds no longer held by the rules of civilization. Well, before we had to craft shelters out of cardboard or roast chipmunks for our dinner, we came to a place where we could see Coe close by, just under the interstate across a grassy open lot.

The thing about a bike is that you can ride it or walk it. If you want to cross some rail tracks to get under the interstate to go to a nearby college campus, sometimes you briefly walk it. “Watch out if one of those rails starts to vibrate,” quipped the president of the MMU bike club, showing the kind of leadership only a student can. I’ll try to protect you by not mentioning your name, OK Mark?

Well, we luckily did not play “train dodge,” as they did in “Stand By Me.” Without much further incident we arrived at Coe, where, for the second time, I felt oddly out of place with the rules of life I normally follow. There I was, in a post-adolescent pack, riding our ragtag bikes across the central campus of Coe College. If we scared anybody, I apologize. I was half expecting to be Tasered (I know my line—“don’t Tase me, bro”) when we passed a Coe Security vehicle. And I’m sure that would have led to an interesting phone call.

Luckily, it didn't happen. No baby ducks nor Coe coeds nor MMU professors were injured in the making of this bike blog post. Phew.

Tree in bloom on patio of Lundy Commons.

While at Coe, our bike club VP broke down and did a very un-guy thing. He asked a Coe student for directions. I didn't hear what the directions were, but we took off, following our vice leader.

And we ended up on a familiar street, one that I have driven often when coming from downtown, passing by Coe and heading to MMU. And I started to have a sneaking suspicious. What if the ball game were played at ….

And a few blocks later, we arrived. I was the one who found the turn-in to the ball diamond. The students remained at the park to watch the game, while I had to head back to campus for a newspaper meeting.

The ball game? It was played at Daniels Park. If you know the geography of MMU and the Cedar River Trail, you may already be chuckling. The way to get to the trail from MMU is to take J Avenue, and J Avenue goes right along the north edge of—Daniels Park. The ball diamond was just out of view over a small hill at the south end of the same park.

We rode 4 miles or so and trekked across a rail wasteland and frightened some Coe coeds to arrive at a game that we had unknowing already ridden by when we were about 4 blocks from Mount Mercy.

Well, I guess the point of a bike club is to ride bikes. So the fact that we got a lot more riding than we needed to could count as a win. After all, the Israelites managed to wander the desert for 40 years before God carefully settled them in the only corner of the Middle East totally lacking in oil, so I guess our wayward journey was not as bad as it could have been.

Bike Club: Next ride, let’s head north on the trail. We may, with luck (knock on wood) have a few fewer chances to get lost that way—and there is a Dairy Queen and a Parlor City Ice Cream Shop along that route. We could do the “lactose ride towards Lafayette” if we wanted to.

It sounds a bit better than the hobo ride to Coe!

No comments:

Post a Comment