Breaking Away in Baton Rouge

10 Feb

When I was a little girl, my father taught me to ride a bike. He bolted training wheels on a bike passed down from one or more of my four older sisters and set me loose to ride circles in the driveway. When he decided it was time, he took off the training wheels, then held the back of my saddle while I climbed aboard. I pedaled, he ran, he let go, I fell. We tried again and again until I pedaled down the street into freedom.

Well, as much freedom that living in a subdivision isolated by a busy, shoulderless highway allows.

The subdivision wasn’t small, but it was street after street of ranch style homes with manicured lawns proudly owned by friendly people with lots of kids, and creeks to explore on its fringes. If we asked Mom nicely, she would let us ride down a long gravel road to a 7-11 to buy candy. But that was about it. We couldn’t ride to school or to sports practice or to a friend’s house on the other side of the highway. We were trapped riding in circles, just like my dad does today on his “ride every street” subdivision tour.

Pollard map

I’m sure many kids didn’t mind being cut off from the rest of the city, and I knew others who were willing to sneak through Ford’s pasture. But not a goody-two-shoes like me. I didn’t ride through the pasture until a few years ago, after it was sold to a developer who cut a trail through it where they will eventually build a street.

Pasture Path

This little trail, not even 2/10 of a mile, has become our bike connection to the rest of the city. Now we can ride all the places that we never could before: to the elementary school and church (1.25 miles), to high school (5 miles) and to college (4 miles), plus grocery stores, parks, restaurants and homes of friends and family.

The map tells it all. That small gold shape around my parents’ home was my childhood cruising range. Now, much of the southern half of the city can be reached by bike. What a big difference a tiny connection can make.

BTR Map 4

We haven’t ridden all the way from home to downtown yet, nor to the Mississippi River where a bald eagle nest is. (That would be a bit long for dad) But we did ride to LSU during our last visit, and I did ride to Baton Rouge High a few years ago for a high school reunion party. Next trip I want to ride downtown for a bike date lunch and to my sister’s house to see the latest fabric arts she’s created. So many new places to go and things to do.

How far from your childhood home could you safely ride a bike? What about where you live now?

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Posted by on February 10, 2015 in Around Town, Travel


6 responses to “Breaking Away in Baton Rouge

  1. fossilcyclist

    February 11, 2015 at 12:08 am

    We had lots of freedom, used to ride miles with pals. There were old bomb sites left over from the air raids where we made dirt bike tracks that we raced around. Our bikes were old second hand ones, so not too precious.

  2. RoZa

    February 11, 2015 at 10:11 am

    Couldn’t ride a bike at all. Any ride on the gravel driveway would blow the tires and we actually lived off a two lane highway. Up note: we could take the horses down to a little convenience store about 2 miles away.

    • ladyfleur

      February 11, 2015 at 10:32 am

      Same for my cousins who lived out in the country, except sometimes their driveway was seashells, not gravel. In South Louisiana I guess the shell was a better deal. Their bikes didn’t go too far beyond their own pasture.

      But I will say that their driveway was great for playing with Tonka trucks. Sand is fun, but gravel and shells is even better.

  3. True

    February 11, 2015 at 10:44 am

    I grew up in Morgan Hill, CA in the 70’s. There was nothing within the town limits signs that was off-limits to me and my Schwinn Stingray.

    • ladyfleur

      February 11, 2015 at 12:19 pm

      Lucky you. Were you able to avoid the busy roads like Monterey Highway and Dunne?

      The highway that isolated us looked like this when I was a kid:

  4. disgruntled

    February 15, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Where my in-laws live, in Pueblo, Colorado, the river trail provides pretty much the only usable cycling (fortunately if you don’t mind some enormous detours, it connects up most of the places we want to go


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