Bicycling to downtown San Antonio on a summer day

Augusta Street bridge, San Antonio

Augusta Street bridge, San Antonio

My wife and I spent some five hours out and about on our bikes yesterday, heading downtown from our house near Red McCombs Ford outside Loop 410 to the King William district.  Altogether it came to a trip of 22.35 miles, mostly along San Antonio’s old main thoroughfares, San Pedro Avenue and Fredericksburg Road.  We set of around 8:00 AM, when it was only 80 degrees and got back just before 1:00 PM, when it was well over 90.

 The reality is I have all but given up cycling again.  It was not my idea in the first place.  And since, for my wife, cycling is so 2009, our nearly new expensive machines have become, more or less, garage junk.  During the first twelve months I rode just over 20 miles a week.  Most of these were round trips of 24 miles to and from my two jobs.  This year, for several reasons, I am not doing that any more.  Essentially I don’t have the time to extend my commutes from twenty minutes each way to an hour.  Who has two hours to give up just to get to work?  Plus my hours changed at Camp Bullis.  I now quit at 9:00 PM.  Riding at night in any major city is not particularly smart.

 It’s also even more boring than riding during the day.  That is my major issue, truth to tell.  Cycling is just dull hard work.  I’m not the kind of person who marvels at the changing scenery and architecture.  I’m not interested in “raising my performance” as all the bicycle literature is forever exhorting us to do.  Learning how to endure pain in order to go nowhere in particular fractionally faster is a fool’s errand if ever I heard one.

 I did enjoy owning a bike in Aberdeen Scotland.  In fact I did not learn to drive until I was around 26 years old.  But, once I got behind the wheel of an automobile, I found my ability to explore the Grampian countryside an eye opening experience and, before I knew it, my biking days were over.  It was almost a relief when my rather nice touring bike was stolen.

 So, why the trip yesterday?  I am working on adding several additional local transportation history “chapters” on the Texas Transportation Museum web site.  I wanted to take a whole bunch of snaps of roads and bridges to go with the voluminous amount of material I have amassed.  While I could have driven downtown, it occurred to me that going by bicycle would be a lot more convenient plus probably afford a far greater number of photo opportunities.

 I was right, for once.  I was delighted when my wife said she wanted to come along.  Between us we must have taken over four hundred snaps of things like the Augusta Street bridge near the main library and the Arsenal Street bridge in King William, where we encountered tourists on Segways and three wheel bicycles.  The major benefit to digital cameras is that it allows a person to adopt Stalin’s dictum that quantity has a quality all its own.  In other words if you take enough shots one or two are bound to be OK, if only by the law of averages.

 Despite the fact we were pretty wiped out by the time we got back to the house, I am beginning to think there might be a future in using or bicycles in this way in the future.  I can see us taking our bikes and cameras to other towns and just slowly roaming around, making frequent stops and taking a boat load of snaps.

 In conclusion, this was the first time I ever used a bicycle to perform work, as opposed to just getting there.  As an adjunct to spending time in libraries and going through musty records in obscure archives, it has a lot to be said for it.  You can be aware that at the intersection of Fredericksburg Road, and IH10 you have the old railroad to the Hill Country crossing the old main road to the same destination in the shadow of the interstate that has rendered both obsolete, but I don’t think you get to truly appreciate the labor involved any better than when you yourself are providing your own motivation.


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