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Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The Accidental Tourist

The nice thing about the Canal Trail is that it is made of crushed gravel.  That is important because it keeps the roller bladers off of the trail.  You have walkers, joggers, and bikes only.  It isn't that people on roller blades are evil.  Bladers are almost as fast as a bike, but they have a lot less control.  I can stop almost on a dime; bladers can't.  That reminds me, I wonder how bad my blading skills have atrophied these past few years.  Anyway it means the Canal Trail is less crowded and that is why I really like it even though it is just a little too short for my tastes.  Since our weather is unseasonably cool it makes perfect biking weather.  It was time to say hi to my old friend.

The one problem with the Canal Trail, besides being about 1 mile too short is that it begins in a very crowded Broad Ripple.  Once you bust out of there it is a good ride :)  It has been likely 2 years since I've last ridden this trail and there is one new thing that is very annoying: lots of geese!  The canal has always attracted ducks and a few geese, but those buggers are out of control now.  

Since it was late afternoon and the sun was blocked by the trees I had a good time wearing my contacts.  So much easier to see when a bead of sweet isn't rolling onto any glasses.  The huge barricades across the gravel path were a rude awakening.  There was a bridge across the canal and it appeared the next bridge was past the construction.  Once again, turn left into the unknown.  As I crossed the bridge it changed my perspective enough to allow me to see a large roof.  It was Hinkle Fieldhouse!  The trees and a small hill blocked the view from the opposite side, but moving 40 feet over or so and I could see it easily.  I knew I was always near Butler University, but never had any idea I was that close even when looking at the maps.  You would never see any buildings due to the thick trees.  I was a tourist discovering new things in my own city.  I couldn't get back across the canal because of the reconstruction of that other bridge I saw.  Hey, I always had wanted to ride my bike on campus.

Butler, being a small liberal arts college, has a very beautiful campus.  Well trimmed grass, flowers, water fountains, some very nice sidewalks, though a lack of buildings in red brick seems odd to my eyes.  They have the whole 9 yards.  A team of wannabe-Lance Armstrongs passed me.  They were decked out in the lycra suits and expensive race bikes.  They also go up hills a lot better than I do.  Aspirin would be my friend later that night I was sure.  Hills are very nice going down though and I was blasting through the air past Hinkle into the heart of campus.  I had no idea where I was going, but that is the fun part.  I've been to Butler numerous times for various things, but I usually just followed the signs to the buildings.  I never paid attention to where I was going or how it all connected.

I shot out into the residential streets.  Butler-Tarkington is a very nice neighborhood full of those older, stylish homes that I love.  The lack of traffic is always a plus as well.  I hate cars when I'm on my bike.  Drivers tend to be very rude to us.  If anyone had been paying attention to me they would have thought I had no idea what I was doing.  Untrue, I was simply cruising the neighborhood and wandering around aimlessly on purpose!  I have to admit that exploring a neighborhood on bike or foot is the best way to do it.  I turned up whatever street is before Illinois and started back toward the trail.  I so love that downhill stretch!

I've said for years that you sometimes need to be a tourist in your own town.  That way you discover new things or reawaken old memories.  Or you could do like me and turn left into the unknown.  It has been the best of surprises these past few days.

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