Saturday, January 12, 2008

Soul Cycling....

The riding choices today were a hammerfest with my Gyro friends, or a leisurely coffee-shop-stopping, greenway-cruising, platitude-spouting, around-town social.

Guess which ride I picked?

The Gyro lung busters are good for the cardiovascular. The city loops with riding buddy Dan are good for the soul. There’s a place for both in my cycling schedule. A soul ride features lots of generalities and the occasional pastry.

It’s hard to get in a spiritual frame of mind astride a carbon fiber wonder-bike. The better choice is this 1965 Schwinn Paramount, lovingly restored by Karl Edwards, a cycling buddy in the Northwest.

Karl is an artist on and off the bike. He worked his magic on this one, taking a rusted frame with a dented downtube and turning into the sharpest ride in my collection. This beauty doesn’t get out of the barn much, which makes its ride that much sweeter.

Dan and I did a big loop around the older areas of Raleigh, cruising the greenways that trace Crabtree Creek, then turning into Oakwood, the historic district near the heart of downtown.

Feeling the need for speed, we stopped in for caffeine at the Morning News, which in my humble opinion makes the finest latte in Raleigh.

The city’s heart is a boomtown. Lots of cranes, new condos, a new convention center, a new hotel. The downtown is being transformed right before our eyes.

Next stop: Dorothy Dix, the sprawling hilltop where the old mental hospital was situated. That’s where the next development fight looms. The developers want to slice it up like a mince meat pie. A local coalition wants to preserve it as 400 acres of park, akin to NYC’s Central Park. I'm pulling for the developers as I have to drive an unreasonable 4 miles to the closest Super Target.

We came by Central Prison (that’ll make a good Target one day) and into Boylan Heights. I'm pretty sure the neighborhood is named after the Connell’s landmark record.

From there it was an easy cruise to Cyclelogic, my buddy Ed’s bike shop. Always fun to stick the head in and see what’s up. What’s up is Fixed Gear. His delightful co-worker has a tricked-out Fuji with horn handlebars. Meantime, Ed’s selling a Raleigh fixed gear with a flip flop hub, a Brooks leather seat and leather bar tap, fenders and Vittoria Randonneur Cross tires. What's old is new again. Guess I'm not the only one doing a little soul searching.

Next up was Cameron Heights, another of Raleigh’s majestic historic neighborhoods with greenspace between the homes and lots of fun alleys to duck down. You can’t swing a cat in there without hitting a liberal. My kind of neighborhood. For the record, I'm opposed to swinging cats or hitting liberals.

We crossed Oberlin near Cameron Village and circled the Rose Garden then took several side streets through Raleigh before hopping onto the greenway through Meredith College. The greenway crossing into Meredith is THE WORST design I’ve ever seen. It’s so dangerous it deserves an AAA award: Top 10 Intersections to Run Over a Cyclist.

The Meredith greenway crosses 440 on the pedestrian bridge I mentioned in another posting, then drops into the property below the N.C. Art Museum.

I stopped for a photo, then we did a bit of off-road stuff, popping out in the back of a neighborhood. We dropped down the hill to Lake Boone shopping center, took a left and eventually picked up Glen Eden, then cut through a couple big money neighborhoods.

Dan and I parted ways on Fairview, and I angled home on the Paramount, hanging her back on her hook in the basement until the next soul ride.

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