Jim's Summer 2007 Bicycle Route
MP3 Tunes I listen to
I had a bike crash back in May when a big wad of insect life slammed into my throat while I was going downhill at speed. I took my left hand off the grip to scrape the darn thing off and the bike crumpled under me. The result was a chest-plant on asphalt with additional road burn on both elbows and knees, and a badly sprained right arm. Okay. I'm over it now. What follows is a glimpse of the daily ride I've settled into for the year. It's about eight miles around the rural township of Greenfield Center, NY, immediately northwest of Saratoga Springs. Takes me an hour. You might wonder why I like to take the same ride every day. Well, I like to see the landscape change through the seasons, and the familiar route is a little safer because I know where most of the broken pavements are, and which stretches pose special automobile traffic hazards.
My bike: the Trek 720, about six years old. I like it real well.
The worst part of the journey: an eighth-of-a-mile jog onto this busy county highway.
I turn west up Middle Grove Road, a somewhat less-trafficked county highway. Don't know whether you can tell this is a hill, but it's the worst one of the whole ride and, mercifully, near the beginning. It's about a half mile to the crest. Paul Simon helps get me through it : Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.
Wah. . . ! An all-too-frequent sight. On a bike, you really get a sense of what a violent place a road full of cars is. I make it up the hill and turn off Middle Grove Road onto South Greenfield Road.
Lots of houses for sale out in the crypto-rural asteroid belt of Saratoga. Actually, what was nearly all farms two decades ago has become increasingly suburbanized. I think the cycle is about over, though -- with oil in the high $70s in early August 07, and the housing bubble deflating. I wonder how many of these realtors' signs represent families in financial distress, underwater on their mortgages and/or maxed out on their credit cards. Some, I imagine.
The old and the new. The barn represents earnest toil, thrift, allegiance to place. The camper represents the opposite. I think the era of the camper-trailer is another thing soon coming to an end with the permanent oil crisis on the horizon. It's amazing to see how little gardening there is out here, even with grocery prices zooming (I paid over a buck a piece for Bermuda onions today.)
Another barn just up South Greenfield Road -- residue of the previous economy. Lots of nice salvage doors and moldings on display. You can't get stuff like that at Home Depot.
More property for sale at Dunham Pond Road. Notice working farm in the background. A few heroic farmers are hanging in there.
Hello, ladies! It's close to ninety degrees at four o'clock in the afternoon. I like riding in the heat. The cows like standing in the pond. Maybe they know something I don't.
Pigs are very friendly. They always come over to say hello. Notice the suburban McHouse that has appeared on the crest of the hill. It wasn't there five years ago. Depressing.
I turn off South Greenfield Road onto Wing Road. There are several Wing family members buried in the old bone orchard.
Here you have the basic American Dream 21st Century Update Unit. These chipboard and vinyl houses are mainly what gets built out here -- sad houses with a dubious destiny, built with few outward signs of affection or conviction. I wonder how the owners will get to their jobs in the years ahead, or even if they'll have jobs. Anyway, this was how we did it at a particular time in history, and soon we won't do it this way anymore.
Remnants of the old agricultural economy still persist, like ghosts in the landscape. This four acre field could grow enough food for several families -- and perhaps it will in the decades ahead. These days, it is just mowed periodically to keep the brush down.
Okay, I turn off Wing Road onto Grange Road. Here's a strange, pretentious establishment that got built a few years ago. The gatepost (off-camera) says "Kelli-Anne Acres." I imagine that some geezer built this gigantic. . . concrete pond ! (it's too big to be called a pool) for his grandchildren. The weird thing is, I've never seen anybody in the pond. Most particularly not a child. Never, ever. After going past the place hundreds of times -- including ninety degree days like this, when you'd think people would be swimming. The sad vanity of this project never fails to impress me. They had some technical problem last month, apparently, with the pipes feeding the pond. The back-hoe (left) is just finishing up the regrading. I pause here to drink some Gatorade.
This is the grange hall on Grange Road. I rather like this building, though I don't quite understand the entrance arrangement. It's a sturdy, unpretentious building with nicely proportioned windows. (The gray steel doors on the ground floor suck. You'd think somebody would paint them white or a bright color. Go figure. . . .) The original structure probably dates from the 1920s, judging from the manufactured split-block foundation, but it has seen some renovation since then.
I leave Grange Road, take a 100-yard jog onto Route 9N and then turn east on the Greenfield-Wilton Road. This intersection is the center of Greenfield Center. The US Postal Service built this cheap-ass eyesore in the 1980s. Note the even more depressing little retail box that accessorizes it. Americans have no shame --and what passes for pride is just grandiosity.
I kind of like this old building, too. I'm told it was a school house early in the last century. Now, it contains rental apartments. The arched windows in the gable are nicely proportioned and expressive. A mile later, I turn south on Locust Grove Road.
Here's a preview of what we may become: Yard Sale Nation. There is so much stuff out there! The time may come when WalMart will get far fewer $18 salad shooters from China. We'll just be endlessly swapping around the stuff we've already bought that still works -- and trying to unload the plastic crap that doesn't work, so it can become somebody else's storage or disposal problem.
The train hasn't come down these tracks for years. I won't belabor this point -- I've said it so many times already -- but we better get the passenger railroad system up-and-running in this country or we may never get more than ten miles away from home.
Me taken by me, tricked out in the world's least flattering fashion accessory. Well, I was glad I had it on when I crashed back in May. Hope your bike ride is fun and interesting, too.