Friday, August 11, 2006

Cycling in Moscow

I rode again today, for the first time in DAYS. It has been rainy, windy, and cold. Not fit for riding without fenders. And on the windy days, it was terrifying to think of riding with that wind. If you were riding into it, you'd be going backward!

It rained this morning, too. But I actually saw the sun about midday. Then it even began to warm up. Positively a miracle! And, on top of that, I even began to think of riding, when my mind has been preoccupied with finding work and determining forward paths from this point. So, when I got home, I was looking at the clouds to see if I could get any idea of whether it was going to rain on me if I rode - or not. There was very black thundercloud coming rapidly over my part of the city, obviously pouring rain on the way. But, it was moving very rapidly, and within a couple tens of minutes it obviously was not going to vent on my section of the city and my roads. And, the skies looked calmer behind it.

When I did get out and ride, it was fine. No rain. But then I had to find new city streets to ride, new paths to get from one point to another. My objective today was to find a path to a set of bicycle and walking paths along the Moscow River that are between 5 and 8 miles from my apartment.

Remember, Russian cities are golden for the numerous back ways available. But on the other hand all the back ways merge into these huge major streets, like little streams and major rivers. You can follow the streams easily, but they often intersect the major river, and then you have to cross this dangerous and huge expanse of hostile territory. Except, if you know a little about the flow and ebb of the large expanse of hostile territory, it is not so hostile. At least not overtly. It is more like a force of nature, that one must recognize and deal with, but it is predictable, at the least.

My explorations today go awry soon enough. The maps do not quite match the reality of the streets. At one intersection, where I plan on going straight, I cannot. Then I cannot find street signs to indicate a name when I need one. And then I run into a section of town that is dominated by one-way streets. Once again I am forced into unwilling, and unwitting detours.

I do not make it to my destination, but I do learn more about the streets I must travel. I begin thinking it may be easier to go ahead and travel the major routes across town. There is more traffic, but these roads must be crossed if not used, and crossing is, if possible, more dangerous than traveling along them.

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