Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Raimo Ahti goes to the ice rink

Now that the weather is turning a tad cooler and my right hand grip has improved to the point where I can manage the right hand brake lever and shifter I decided to blow the cobwebs off of poor old Raimo see if cycling to the rink was a realistic option.  Readers of my other blog are already acquainted with Raimo, my Raleigh Team Professional Replica.  Others may read his story here.  Although my town, Bowie, Maryland is blessed with a hap-hazard collection of bike trails there are two major highways which stand between your diarist and the ice rink:  Route 50, a six lane inter-state and Route 197, a two-lane county road that also expands to six lanes at just the point where I'd need to cross it.  Fortunately the powers that be were forward sighted enough to provide a pair of strategically placed pedestrian bridges over those two roads.

Now I've lived in this town for almost 30 years but for one reason or another (too hot, don't want to arrive at the rink drenched in sweat, too cold, too wet, etc., etc. etc.) I've never explored those two bridges to see if they have stairs or the more cyclist-friendly ramps.  I don't plan to go by bike every time I head to the rink, but it does take one car off the road and the 30 or so minutes of riding should nicely warm up my legs by the time I get there.  By automobile the ice rink is 4.2 miles from my house.  I suspect by bicycle it will be a tad further as the bike trail tends to wander.  Can this trip be made without your diarist getting horribly lost or squashed under the wheels of a large SUV?  Let's find out.

I say, Guv'nor, which way to the ice rink?

There are several different ways to get to the closest branch of the bike path system but I decided to cut through the housing development and ride past Belair Mansion, the gem of the City's Museum system.

Quite an impressive brick pile for little ol' Bowie.

We want the branch going towards Bowie Town  Shopping Center. W. B. &A. stands for Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis.  This is part of an east coast "greenway" of rail-to-trail conversions which once completed is supposed to go to the moon an back.  You can read about it here.

After a mile or so we come to the overpass which will convey us safely across busy Route 50.  On the weekends everybody and his brother are zooming down 50 to get to the Delaware and Maryland beaches.  This weekend was no exception.  I have no idea why they put that post in the middle of the path.  The path certainly isn't wide enough for a car and the post must be a PITA for riders of recumbent trikes.  Additionally, posts like that could spoil you whole day if you carelessly whang into one on the downhill run.

Looking at route 50 from the center of the overpass.  Why is it that Japanese car dealerships always have the largest American flag?  This one is fluttering proudly over a Toyota franchise.

Carrying on, the bike path dumps us onto Northview drive, the road which takes us to the rink.  But how will we get to the overpass that avoids our second obstacle, route 197?  When I google-mapped this route things got a teensy bit fuzzy concerning this point.  Something about cutting through a parking lot.  Hmm.

Ah Ha, after being forced to ride either on the pavements or the road, the bike path magically reappears at the perimeter of this parking area.

And there's our overpass.  No stairs to climb--yippee!

Time to start stomping on the peddles.
Traffic doesn't look too busy in this shot but I'm still glad to be cruising over route 197 and its attendant cars than darting among them.

Once past route 197, the bike path disappears but  Northview Drive calms down and is a leafy two lane street with heavily enforced speed restrictions due to the nearby school.  On a bike I don't have to worry about this little fellow or his twin brother on the other side of the road.
The yellow gate up ahead marks the entrance to Allen Pond Park.  The park is also the site of the ice rink.

Here we are.  Easy as pie.
The park backs up to this small pond.

The pleasant, shady setting offers a number of picnic areas complete with BBQ pits.

There are also play grounds and ball fields.
Paddle boats are available for a small fee.

There's a storm coming so I won't hang around and skate today (postscript: after I got home BIG thunderstorms rolled through Bowie and we lost electricity until the next morning).  Before I leave I'll look for a safe place to lock up Raimo.  This railing looks promising but what's that sign say?

No Bicycling!  I thought this was a progressive town!  I'll have to look into this since there's no bike rack near the rink.
So, bottom line, it can be done.  I'll investigate the bike security issue and also take a look at backpacks so that I can carry my skates and skating paraphernalia next time.  Raimo's bike computer had a dead battery so I didn't get an estimate of the distance, and because I stopped to take these pix I don't have an accurate sense of the amount of time the journey would take but I'm fairly certain that if I allowed a half hour's time that would be sufficient. Yes, there are a few hills along the path and although some are steep enough to sting the legs, all are mercifully short.  Besides, the idea is to warm 'em up before I lace 'em up!


  1. Hi George! Your article brought back two great skating memories. The first was cycling to and from the arena in Oberstdorf this past may. It was a 5 minute downhill ride from our apartment to the arena and a 15 minute ride back up the hill to get home. Fortunately the scenery was magnificent on both directions!

    The second memory I have is skating in a summer competition at the Leddy Park arena in Burlington, VT. The rink is right on the shore of Lake Champlain. In fact the beach is just next to the arena so after my skate I could change into my bathing suit in the arena and go for a swim. There are some beautiful walking trails near-by that go through the forest so that's where I got to do my warm-up run.

    Thanks for the guided tour of your corner of the world.

  2. :-))) I'll think of you when I walk to my ice rink which is 8 mins away from my flat......you are a good example for there is a life without a car! (I havent got one, I do car sharing with an Opel Ampera if there is need for a car once a year);-)

    1. A.G.--Thanks for the comment; I wish I lived just 8 minutes from my rink now that the weather is turning colder! Which discipline of ice skating do you pursue? I'm currently working on low level free style elements (half rotation jumps, beginner spins, etc.) but plan to start ice dance lessons soon.

  3. I am learning basic freestyle elements (spins, waltz jump, edges) and mastering crossovers backwards but later I want to do ice dancing as well! Yep, my rink's distance is very handy;-))) I do group lessons with 2 or even 3 instructors and I plan to buy artistic inline skates (I go roller skaing once a week too) in order to train better in the summer as our rink is closed from April-August....