Sunday, September 07, 2008

Bike Ride to Whole Foods at Short Pump, Pt. 2

I had this great idea: Ride my bike to Whole Foods opening weekend in Short Pump and gloat about my ethical transportation choice to frolic amid the the corporate chi chi avant gourmet perfection. All that was left to do was actually make the trip there and back (easier said than done, right). My hypothesis was pretty obvious: This increasingly ridiculous big-box retail conglomeration is just too damn far for regular trips for rational Richmonders. Now that the experiment has been carried out (I made it there and back in one piece), my conclusion is a bit different (for now). This story, although only transpiring over the course of four hours (made some other stops), is currently feeling like Frodo's trip to Mordor to destroy the ring of power. Or, maybe I'm just outta shape and over-analyzing.

It started with a whirlwind preparation this morning, that propelled me out the door and onto my bike. I chose my wife's flat bar road bike over my much faster road bike. It has a detachable basket that held my water bottle, keys, cell phone, wallet, lock, and room to spare for a few purchases to bring home. To prepare for the heat, I wore a sleeveless wicking shirt and stretchy/chamois Canari's under my cargo shorts. Except for my comical socks and clip in shoes, I do not wear neon lycra outfits like those guys on bikes that cost as much as my Honda Civic. Helmet, check. Gloves, crucial to avoid hand fatigue (especially on a flat bar with only one hand position). Sunglasses, yup. 100 psi in the tires and I'm off. Surprisingly competent prep considering my hangover (but I did forget to eat anything for breakfast. doh!).

Cutting through the fan and Museum District to get on Patterson is familiar territory for me since I often bike to work at Broad and Thompson. Once past those 2.5 miles, the rolling hills of Patterson woke me up to the reality of this workout and the sorry state of Richmond's roads (many potholes to avoid, nearly popping my tires). By the time I passed Libby, I was feeling the burn and wondering why Trader Joe's didn't decide to go with the old Westbury Market right there and save me a trip out to the corporate wonderland (oh yeah, THANKS UKROPS). I mean, seriously. Trader Joe's is going to be my main motivation in going all the way out to Short Pump (by car) in the future and popping by Whole Foods will a secondary sometimes thing. Anywho, bargaining is the stage acceptance I was in as I reluctantly pedaled ahead. If I waited here long enough, maybe a yuppy paradise would eventually show up and fill that empty grocery store.

When I reached Three Chopt and Patterson, I found some shade and stopped, not sure if I was going to make it. Even if I did, would I make it back? Was I still drunk when I made the decision to ride to Short Pump? I'm not in shape enough for this. My muscles were screaming and I realized that I hadn't stretched at all. So I took five and got limber and caught my breath. Part of me suspected that my second entry on this topic would be about wussing out, turning back, and admitting my naivite. But only 20 minutes of riding had gone by and I wasn't ready to throw in the towel. No, I wasn't prepared for this ride, but exercise is how you get in shape and doing the ride is how you get your body ready for the next one (the quads just needed stretching and I was good to go and demystify some Richmond roads). Plus, maybe I won't have to change my pseudonym to RVA Fattie.

Turning onto Three Chopt, the ride changed into something else altogether, mostly very pleasurable. At first it was rough, because I struggled to get my shoes clipped back in and once I did I found myself having to stop at a light. Low and behold, I didn't get my feet out in time and I fell over on my side, crashing bike and body against the pavement, still attached at the feet with a dozen cars stopped all around me, gawking and agape. This is a humiliating happening that most biking noobs like me are familiar with. Okay, I'm not a novice rider. I'm just undisciplined and out of practice.

After I picked myself up, I pedaled hard to leave that bad memory behind. My bike ate up the curves and hills and I totally hit a goove. Thank god for gears! The music in my ipod totally fueled this poriton of the ride (thanks to recent downloaded music: The Foreign Exchange, Girl Talk, The Lines, Black Mountain). Yes, I like to wear headphones on my bike. Hearing is overrated on a bike when dumbasses are probably yelled at me and taking it out of the equation heightens my other senses and distracts me from my fatigue. Let's not debate this practice, please. I know it's unwise. Virginia law says you need to have one ear open to traffic sounds and my earbuds fell out frequently enough to put me in compliance part of the time. All in all, this was a really peaceful part of the trip through a fairly lush green version of suburbia.

Soon, I was passing Regency, Parham, and then Gaskins. HOLY SHIT! I just passed Gaskins. Only one more stop on 64 to go. Up ahead, I was on a stretch of Three Chopt I'd never seen. The unfamiliarity was concerning, but I was thankful not to be buzzed by too many cars on the narrow two lane road. I passed Cox road and the tranquil road opened up to pretty recent housing developments. Pedaling on, I was looking for Pump road to tell me that I'd gone far enough, but not sure if I'd find a better option to make a right turn and hit the shopping centers. My anticipation was getting really strong and I had to keep from freaking out about where the fuck I was.

As you can see, I was pretty excited. But nothing prepared me for the vision on the right that unfolded. The trees gave way to a distant vision, an oasis, if you will (also known as a "clear cut"). Smack in the middle of a cluster of unfinished brick structures jutted out the facade of Whole Foods and a small sea of cars surrounding it, shining like glittering water in the hot sun. Yes!!! I made it. I could even read the sign from here. But there was no way to get over there. Soon, I had left the vision behind me and freak out mode set in again. Luckily, a newly constructed "street" opened up on my right and I took it's windy turns through the construction to the mouth of the Trader Joe's, Five Below, PetCo, Vitamin Shop installation. Booya!

The only real drag of the trip so far was right here. I had to backtrack on Broad Street a bit. Biking on Broad, especially west of Boulevard, really sucks. Richmond needs to make Broad more bikeable. But, that's another story cuz as long as there are lots of cars and fumes, etc, I won't wanna bike that route. Riding among the spectacle of sprawl in process and all the big box construction sites, made me wonder. Was all this deemed necessary just because white flight and decades of massive resistance? It's a lot of trouble to go to just cuz white parents don't want to send their kids to school with African-Americans. Anyhow, I rode up to the 64 East exit and then veered into the cutesy brick paved Whole Foods lot, dodging traffic cops and throngs of gridlocked cars. This place was slammed. And wouldn't you know it? No bike racks.

Considering myself discriminated against, I locked up my bike to the most prominent street light in front of the store and made a bee line inside for customer service, even passing the stand where they were bribing new customers with FREE AVOCADOS. By the way, looking at my watch. The time of my ride was 45 minutes (plus that 5 minutes of stretching/reevaluation).

To be continued... Tune in tomorrow (Sauron awaits) for the story of a foodie in paradise and some conclusions from this experiment.

Here's part three.

1 comment:

  1. I thought this one was the best of the four part series. Why no comments?


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