That week began with long walks up and down snowy hills, and it ended with two men wanting to fight. That week began with cold, relentlessly snowy days, and it ended with me reeling in memories of other public transit experiences I’ve had in my life. I touched on some of those feelings in Scooter pt.1, but that week–that week was something else.
Before we discuss that week, I have to provide a kind of counterbalance to what can be seen as pure negativity about Cleveland’s public transportation reality. Many days, the buses run more or less as they should. Many days I arrive at work, and arrive back home relatively on schedule. Many days there is nothing out of the ordinary to report, although there is plenty that is out of the ordinary, like the people.
I was hungry–enthusiastic–to move to an American city with a fully-functioning public transit system, and Cleveland seemed to have potential. In moving here, we sought to rent a place near easy bus or train connections, and I immediately signed up for a monthly transit pass. Even an awkwardly uncomfortable encounter on my very first day riding the bus home with a fellow needing to deliver a racially-charged, drunken rant, did not discourage me. I commuted with the bus, more or less, uninterrupted for 10 months, but it wore me down. And it is with some regret that I say I have adopted a new primary commuting mode for the non-snowy months: a scooter.
I may not be the most devoted bicyclist, but I wouldn’t call myself a novice, either. My bike was my only mode of transport in college, for example, meaning come sun, rain, snow, or slush I was often pedaling to work or class. My university was located in a bike-friendly town (Moscow, Idaho) meaning recreational riding was an easy trail map away. Sometimes I would ride the 8 miles to neighboring Pullman, Washington to enjoy the rolling grasslands of the Palouse while thumping techno music seeped from my ear buds.
After it seemed likely we would stay in Europe past the initial Robert Bosch fellowship, I began plotting how I might get my trusty Trek 4300 from storage in Idaho, to my hands in Munich. On a vacation back to the U.S. I had the bike disassembled and boxed, and then we brought it back on the flight. It took some more coordination getting the bike to Zurich, but once it was here and reassembled, it was like I was again a two-wheeled commuter. Zurich has its own hills, and my rides were not always smooth, but it was familiar.
It was an unusually pleasant Sunday: the clouds had broken for long enough, and the sun shone bright and warm enough, for us to expect Spring flowers and mornings without shivered awakenings. Our new perch on the edge of Zurich’s suburbs has given also proximity to Route 66–a long trail of 55 kilometers (34 miles) winding along the Limmat River. Unlike US Route 66 this path is paved by just loose gravel for a time, traversing rails and pathways; buzzing apartments and a reformed industrial quarter, to connect a medieval refuge with a quaint town–with the largest Swiss city between the two.
So with an unexpected sun at my back, I took up the same bicycle that I rode through college triumph and strife, to conquer at least part of Route 66.