OK, I got a little carried away yesterday, with my post about alien remnants. First, Filigree noted those alien transmitters disguised as rocks looked a lot like some she photographs. She didn't specify the purpose, but didn't deny it had to do with UFO research. THEN, PM Summer observed that the path didn't look over six feet wide. This proves that "you can take the boy out of planning, but you can't take planning out of the boy." Well, PM, that path would only be six feet wide if you had an overactive imagination.
I could see where this might all be leading once crazy people like ChipSeal and Rantwick start speculating, so I'll confess. The path was part of a failed attempt to find a better route to work. Here's the story, and why the path is lame. Not at ALL like the Little Lame Prince.
It all started last summer when one of my co-workers was considering riding his bike from Keller to Fort Worth Alliance Airport. I was cautiously encouraging, noting that some of the roads near the Airport require a certain dedication to cycling (it's no accident I use the Alliance Gateway Freeway for a portion of my ride to work). He noted there were some promising looking paths that he thought might make the ride more pleasant. The map from Google, below, shows one such alternate route.
click on map for larger viewthough illegally), it passes the offices of my concrete guys, there's good scenery along the way, and, as a special treat, roadkill occasionally makes an appearance. Still, I admit I WAS curious about the white blobs that show up on the satellite view of that path.
So I rode, down Keller Hicks, past all the stopped east-bound traffic. Immediately I concluded I would NEVER use the alternate when going west. Why ride a bike if you're stuck in stop and go auto traffic? Then, I got to the trail. It was even narrower than it looked from the satellite view. However, narrow trails don't bother me (wide paths are almost as dangerous as narrow ones), and this one was not bothersome due to being narrow. One advantage of riding a cyclocross bike is you just go offroad if there's a group of joggers or a dog on the path. Nor did the fact that the path started and stopped with little rhyme or reason bother me. Bike paths frequently are afterthoughts and smart riders take advantage of the segments that work while ignoring all the dopey parts. I even appreciated the safety features such as "lack of ramps" where the path came upon streets. I figured it slows down any kids riding that needed to cross the street and I need more practice bunny hopping anyway.
Still, this path seemed DEAD. The alien connection seemed more than just a metaphor. It made me think about why I like riding paths in the first place. There's no question in my mind that MUPS are MUCH more dangerous than riding in the street. This year, my one accident and another close call both happened on a path. But I ride them anyway, as long as they don't result in a significant detour. And I'm not the only one. When I finished up with bicycle school, I got taken back down a MUP to get to my TRE connection.
Then it hit me. I like riding paths because they're ALIVE. The debris that falls from the trees is an affirmation of the advance of nature and the changing seasons. The armadillo threatening to toss me into the bushes is a reminder that the earth is not man's alone. Even the slippery wooden bridge deck is a reminder of how things deteriorate. And the joggers are actually kind of fun to avoid. All this makes them a refreshing change from the ride along the roads. The only armadillo you ever see on a road has flies swarming about it.
But none of this applied to the little lame path. It HAD no trees. It HAD no animals. Even the ponds had virtually no birds. It HAD no bridges. As a result, it HAD no PEOPLE other than an occasional neighbor taking fido out for a morning piddle. All it had were a few big white rocks at one end. At least my usual route's got concrete guys and a tank! I rode the little lame path twice more to make sure I hadn't misjudged it. I thought it might have kids walking to school since there's an elementary school at the end. Nope, no kids use the path either. They use the regular sidewalks along the real streets. Perhaps they're afraid of alien abduction. Myself, a path's got to have more than a bunch of big white rocks at one end to get me interested...
click on photo for larger view - but the larger view's boring, too!