Sunday, June 14, 2009

Smell the Roses via Transport Stages?

I was reminded today of the notion of "transport stages" that Jan Heine describes in his Spring 2009 issue of Bicycle Quarterly. My wife and I had dropped Janak, her son, off at a school function at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle.

Oh, the aroma of BBQ's, suntan oil, and salty air from Puget Sound. Exquisite. A drummer in a tunnel provided the soundtrack. Summer had enveloped us in a warm embrace, and we surrendered.

We considered just sitting and soaking--not a bad choice--but we had brought our bicycles, so we decided to go for a summer afternoon ride. But alas only an hour now left to ride!

We hopped on board our bicycles and sped down the trail toward the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. Our aim was to go across the locks and up into Magnolia. As any Seattelite knows one must walk one's bicycle through the crowd. And this sunny afternoon there was quite a crowd.

A crowd of sightseers and boats alike. And so we found ourselves sightseeing too. And it was lovely.

Our bicycles had transported us, though not very far at all, to yet another lovely spot.

But when we realized we had to meet back up with Janak very shortly, we had to skedaddle! And so skedaddle we did.

We cruised. Pramila took the lead, looked back over her shoulder and cried out: "Get on Board!". We sped back faster than we'd otherwise, and made it back in time to meet Janak right on time.

And that's when it hit me. Jan had discussed this notion of transport stages from the old days of cyclotouring. The group would head off at a very fast clip to a scenic or historic destination. Once there they'd pause, smell the roses, take in the sights and relax.

Once the allotted hanging around time had elapsed they'd jump back on their bicycles and speed home.

What appeals to me about this is the ability to satisfy one's curiosity. I find myself--and this is also a product of my as yet too slow speed--unable to check out all these little gems I'm cycling past.

It practically kills me to be so close to yet so far from this mystery revealed or that notion followed.
So, I'm going to think some more about these transport stages and their accompanying special interest stops.
Shouldn't we as randonneurs stop and smell the roses too?
As I write this I realize many randonneurs already do. They are the ones who pause at the coffee shops because they have time banked up while I struggle just to finish. OK. But, when I get faster, I hope to organize some special visits to secret spots...all within the time limits.
It's that "when I get faster" part I have to work on!
Keep transporting to one curiosity after another,