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Old 04-28-20, 09:24 AM
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BobbyG
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
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Bikes: 2015 Charge Plug, 1997 Nishiki Blazer, 1984 Nishiki International

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The Adventure Machine Does It Again!

I mostly commute, with a couple of weekend "adventure rides" thrown in. But with my current reduced-hours/work from home schedule I have been set free from my regular commute for better or for worse.

"Worse", because getting to work and back home was my motivation for riding, and without that demand to be somewhere else at a specific time, I tend to procrastinate myself out of a riding opportunity. "Better", because when I do roll to the end of my driveway I am free to go off in any direction impulse takes me.

Now, even though I mostly commute, I have various routes and various variations of those routes to keep thing interesting. And just riding one street over from the usual can flood your consciousness with new views and sensations.

Then, on my weekend adventure rides, I will often head out to explore areas of Colorado Springs I haven't been to, or at least ridden through, And with so much constant expansion, that isn't too difficult, although it can be a little boring, since the newer developments tend to look the same, and be out on the flatter eastern plains away from the mountains, foothills, flora and fauna. One notable exception was last summer when I decided to try a MUP I had always passed on not realizing it was much longer and more scenic than I had imagined.

So, yesterday after lunch I headed west into the foothills towards Manitou Springs, although I wanted to avoid crowds when I reached downtown Manitou. I decided to take a route I seldom take due to excessive hills. I wondered if I could remember the route, but found it seemed to present itself to me. Even though the street name kept changing, it definitely seemed like one continuous street, even though it wound this way and that with a few 90-degree junctions. It had been at least 5 years since I had been on it, and I noticed quite a few new homes and subdivisions among the hodge podge of victorian and pre-war homes. I ended up on a two block street that is part of one of my two usual routes into Manitou, and I thought, that was a nice change of scenery, a nice little adventure...

...but that was where the real adventure was to begin. There is a junction with a side street that breaks this small stretch into its two blocks, and for all of my 28 years in Colorado Springs I have passed it by. Yesterday, for the first time I turned right and followed it...

I found myself on a wide, quiet, shady street lined with slightly upscale, post-war ranch-style homes, similar to other neighborhoods of the same vintage around town. As I went deeper in the properties began to encroach on the foothills and odder, more iconoclastic homes took over. There was an occasional newer home here and there, but the neighborhood was mostly unchanged for the last 60 years. Street after street, block after block I explored avenue after avenue until they stopped at Colorado Springs' crown jewel, the Garden of the Gods Park, with its soaring sandstone formations.

I knew there were some homes in this area, which I assumed was called "Pleasant Valley" because of the name of a church by the turn I never took...I had seen some streets on the map; but the lines never meant anything to me, because I had never been there and never needed to be there. It was a much, much larger area than I had expected.

Eventually I turned around and headed home, where I opened up the laptop and looked at the street map. The first thing that struck me was that the street that kept changing names was a snake among the grid of streets that came later. In fact, for a good portion of its length it is called "Manitou Boulevard" because this was obviously the old road from Colorado Springs to Manitou Springs back before they grew to abut each other.

And then I looked at the "Pleasant Valley" neighborhood and I could picture the area in my mind. The lines on the map now meant something to me.

After dinner I took my wife and mother-in-law for a drive retracing my route. They had lived here for almost 60 years. Neither had been down Manitou Boulevard, and neither had been in Pleasant Valley. I expected that it would seem much smaller driving in the car...but no...they were also both amazed at how big this "hidden" section of town was.

Unless you live in a very small town, there are places you don't drive through because there are wider, faster, more direct routes. And these places are too far to walk from where you are. But they are the perfect distance to discover by bicycle. So when you are out riding and pass a street you never take for the umpteenth time, or have become bored with a particular route you have ridden to death, move one street over, or turn down that street you've never turned down.

Adventure awaits.
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