Lost in suburbia

6 08 2012

When I was a kid growing up in suburbia, I set out on my summer cycling adventures with one goal: to get lost. In middle age, I finally succeeded.

After successive weeks of challenging climbing rides, our Sunday FR Fuggitivi opted for a flatter, quicker route to the farmlands of South Delta.

The approach to the Alex Fraser Bridge is made more pungent by the sewage treatment plant next door.

After traversing the (new to me) Alex Fraser Bridge and running the gauntlet of industrial warehouses, sewage plants and saw mills in its considerable shadow, we rolled past sprawling blueberry and fragrant lilac farms. We pondered the powerful protein that might come from a herd of cattle grazing beside an immense hydro switching station. We dodged flocks of careening starlings.

Having survived the industrial parks, we turn into idyllic country roads.

Our turnaround point, Boundary Bay was pretty enough as a park, but lacked refreshment on the steaming morning.

There’s not much to do at our turnaround point.

It was while looking for the route back onto the Alex Fraser Bridge that we got messed up.

While building cycling lanes into bridges is admirable and progressive, making the entrances and exits to those lanes from neighbouring streets readily apparent and easy to navigate is often the key to their success.

In that regard, the new Golden Ears and Richmond SkyTrain bridges are wildly successful. The Pitt River Bridge is a disaster. And the Alex Fraser isn’t much better.

Signage is almost non-existent. Construction on the feeder roads doesn’t help.

We rolled through neighboring subdivisions, our eyes peeled for bike route signs that would hopefully direct us back toward the bridge. It was a frustrating half-hour riding in circles in some sort of Desperate Housewives suburban hell of cookie-cutter houses on cookie-cutter cul-de-sacs.

Finally, a sign seemed to indicate we were on the right track, only to lead us right to a dirt trail that branched right and left, with no further signs telling us which way to go.

Intrepid adventurers that we are, we went cyclocross until the Lapierre pinch-flatted. As I swapped out the tube, Blackberries were consulted, wives phoned for Google guidance.

Back on the road again, their mapping advice spit us onto the proper highway, and a big red circle with a diagonal slash bisecting the figure of a silhouetted cyclist. No mas.

We conceded to the true dread of the day, a traverse of the notorious Pattullo Bridge…

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