Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Thoughts on routes

The memorable trips are the longer ones, when I go exploring the countryside, but the reality is that I am covering at least as much distance on short circuits of the local suburbs.

I work from home, so there is no such thing for me as a commute, but over the last eighteen months I have evolved a standard loop of around five miles, that gives me just over half an hour break from work. On the way I can pick up a newspaper, or anything else we need from the local shop.

I vary the route slightly, depending on how long I have, and how energetic I feel, but basically it follows a standard pattern. There are no great views, although there are a few hills to stretch the muscles a bit. The route basically circles round residential areas. On the whole I use back streets to avoid busy roads, but I do have to share bus routes for short stretches.

I try to avoid the start and the end of the school day, because that brings much more traffic, heavy parking and turmoil in a couple of streets that are next to school entrances. So the traffic I see is fairly light, but there is a surprising amount of other activity. A mix of people, of all ages, are out and about doing their own stuff. Those at work are mostly builders (there is not much gardening at this time of year). There are lots of mothers with small children, and older people shopping or just watching the world go by.

The people vary, but the constant is the range of different housing. The local area has developed over more than a century - from Victorian terraces, through Edwardian villas, pebbledash and tudor-bethan from the twenties and thirties, to postwar council housing, dormer bungalows and rows of semis from the fifites and sixties up to individual executive detached to more recent pockets of infill, and new townhouses that are still under construction. A different decade leaving a different mark, every time I turn a corner. It is interesting how housing designed for different generations has all been absorbed into the same patchwork.

It is also interesting how both the different building styles, and different people are so much more noticeable from a bike than from a car. Taking half an hour off work for a quick circuit round the suburbs may not be as memorable as a few hours for a longer trip into the country, but there is still plenty to see.

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