It’s Thursday, and that means I leave my house at 7 a.m. today to take the train with my bike to the Arts Center Station in Midtown, Atlanta. I inevitably meet the nicest people of the day on the elevator up to the plaza (me with my bike and them with their wheelchairs and strollers and luggage), where someone will surely be playing the public piano.
Traveling at the Speed of Bike* down Peachtree Street to 14th, I swing a left as a comfortable and welcome part of vehicular traffic and head through Piedmont Park, where the sun’s rising striations cascade across the morning mist still kissing the park’s rolling hills. I usually stop for just a moment of meditation and gratitude and sheer, unadulterated awe.
A jaunt up the Atlanta Beltline’s Eastside Trail (perhaps with a wave or a hug of someone I know whom I serendipitously meet in passing) takes me to the Freedom Parkway PATH, where I check on the native persimmon trees not yet ready to release their orange orbs. I dead-end into the TeleTubbyLand-terrain of Freedom Park, which gifts me with one of my favorite public art sculptures of all, a triumphant woman holding swirling metal ribbons commemorating the One Million Rising protest years ago (which I attended). That lady and I nod to each other in solidarity.
After a series of Olmsted-designed linear greenspaces — one after another after another like prayer breads— and a brief diversion onto a sidewalk, I am greeted opened-armed by a welcome sign and wide bike lanes in the City of Decatur, where I swoop down a hill and lean my bike against the interactive art exhibit shown at the top of this post to pound out my joy, week after week after week.
That’s my commute to my volunteer assignment at the Global Village Project school for refugee girls (I’ve Rode to Joy four times so far). For this month of Biketober, it’s part of my Atlanta Bike Challenge experience. Other times when I’ve done this particular route to Decatur for other reasons (like when I taught Seniors on Trikes, and an Earn–a-Bike program for kids in need), it’s made me drunk with the smell of magnolias or full from foraged mulberries. A different route home involves a visit to an emu and a slice of pizza on a park bench. And perhaps an ice cream cone while meeting yet another Today’s Nice Stranger.
And always joy.
* 99 cents this week only for the USA digital version of Traveling at the Speed of Bike, instantly downloadable to any device via the free Kindle app.