Friday, October 1, 2010

The quickest way to Castle Rock

The Adventure Cycling maps tend to follow unnamed back country roads. The idea is that the roads are less traveled and, therefore, safer. While most of the time the roads are beautiful and seemingly untouched, they also add extra miles between point A and point B.

Last night we skirted around Elma, going up and down hills and coming into town on a road that I’m sure most locals are not even aware exists. Today, I thought, I’ll outsmart the map and create my own route -- a straight line between A and B.

So I bought a very detailed street map of the area. I set it out on a street corner and traced a route from Elma to Castle Rock, knocking 20 miles off the days milage. Proudly, I thought, today is going to be a good day . . . until a passerbyer randomly informed me of a road closure on my new route. Not a big deal -- we’ll go around it on this road, turn on that road, meet up with the planed route here.

Do I even need to say it? My route was a nightmare. The whole plan was diabolical from the beginning. I took Melissa on the main road in a fairly large town and found that bikes were not allowed to go over certain bridges. We’d go around the bridge and find that the town was not built on the grid system and get turned around and lost. We’d go through another town and find only one-way streets and get lost. At one point I asked a man on a bike (who looked like a biker) for directions and he yelled out street names and pointed in various directions and then went on to tell me about how President Grant, before he was president, was a surveyor and worked on the very road we were standing on. (He started off this unsolicited history lesson by saying, “You’re not going to believe this but . . .” And I wanted to yell, “you’re right -- I cannot believe you are telling me this crap!” Instead I yelled, “Cool!” He also pointed to himself every time he said Grants’ name, as if he himself was President Grant. It was all very odd.) But the kicker was the van that turned directly in front of Melissa, missing her front wheel by millimeters. (Melissa chased the guy down to “educate” him of his error. He of course yelled out something like, “What? You can’t read road signals? I had my blinker on!”)

In the end, my route only cut off five miles, but probably (err, definitely) added hours of stressful stopping. We reached our Warm Showers destination just as it turned dark -- we had been en route for nine hours. As we slumped down in our bed for the night, I made Melissa a promise that that was the last time I ever buy a map and attempt to redo a route that has been correct for over 30 years.


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