The final press of the plunger injected a burst of air that filled the bicycle tire to near capacity. The gauge now read 65 and there was a great hiss when I pulled the nozzle from the tire. I’ve never been a big bike rider and only do I do it for practical purposes and rarely recreational. Only two miles from my destination I know there’s no quicker or more enjoyable method of transportation to the stadium. Saturdays in the fall in my neighborhood are busy – the busiest of the week. And nearly 100% of the traffic on the road or pedestrians on the street are all going to the same place.
As my bike gently rolled into the street and toward the primary thoroughfare that shoots straight as an arrow into the heart of the university the traffic was already beginning to backup. Every car, SUV, truck and van encapsulated scarlet clad occupants and flags protruded from the tops of the windows of every third or so car. Not needing to wait for the light to change due to the gridlocked traffic I quickly crossed the procession and darted down a tree-shaded side street. Nearly devoid of cars I was liberated as I was able to pick up speed and my voyage was finally able to commence. Soon I was joined by a more familiar kind of traffic. Dozens of bicycles with operators very much like me seemed to empty out of every passing intersecting street into a defined yet unmarked trail. Every bike headed the same direction, not one going against the grain. The pace was swift but comfortable and it seemed to carry me without requiring effort on my part like a gently rolling river. Ahead of me the bikes began to swerve to the left in unison as they passed a slower moving cousin. It was a Dad whose bike was pulling a small trailer resembling a miniature pup tent construction. Two children lounged in the tent shaded with wind gently rustling the locks of their hair. They traveled as cool and expressionless as an Egyptian Queen in a royal carriage. Of the flock some were speed focused, some were casually enjoying the activity and others were more professional like delivery personnel dutifully transporting goods but all were keenly focused and determined on reaching their shared destination.
The side streets soon ran out and all of the migrants funneled into a well-pave bike path. It first snaked through the heart of a greatly misplaced cornfield and then along a dense and equally rare woods. The path then opened to an expansive intramural park and in the clearing of baseball diamonds the stadium had first come into view off on the horizon. The congestion had greatly increased as the whole neighborhood seemed to be attempting to squeeze through the large but less than ample trail. This time another form of migrant had been added to the mix, the pedestrian. Where the rest of us had opted for vehicles of transportation these devotees sacrificed time and feet to make the journey in the most primitively possible way. Dodging these slow moving objects became a hazard all too real and potentially dangerous.
At this point I welcomed the new addition of an adjacent road to separate the bikers from the walkers. Suddenly an unexpected gust of air crashed into my back causing my balanced bike to wobble with instability and the flash of a huge object only a couple of feet to my left assaulted my periphery. It quickly apparent that I had possibly traded one hazard for a much larger one as the University bus screamed past me. Filled to capacity with passengers the bus lane I had entered was rapidly shuttling pilgrims to this final destination in the largest of numbers. For nearly half a mile I endured the precarious situation I had found myself in with finely tuned concentration and white knuckles. The busses were separated by just enough time that a suspect safe speed was achieved creating about fifteen seconds of complete calm anticipation all the while bracing for the inevitable next blast.
The sight of an immediate and significant police presence ground all traffic to a crawl. The busses were careening in front of me around a corner, taking an alternative route, and once again we were reunited with the automobiles I had first skirted at the beginning of the trek. The agility and slim profile of the bike made weaving a path in and out of the cars possible and quite efficient and the sedentary nature of the traffic removed the real risk of danger. Again, I felt the satisfaction of progression and confidence in my choice of transportation.
From behind the parting trees as I biked up the incline of the bridge crossing the beautiful Olentangy River Ohio Stadium was now visible on the opposite bank. The journey’s end was closer than could have been anticipated. From every direction, like the spokes of my bicycle’s wheel, pilgrims descended like locusts on the stadium only now the vast majority were on foot having shed their transportation devices. I pulled my bike into an already overfilled bike rack, spun the combination dials on the lock and slipped into the crowd.