Urban exploration

I stopped along my meandering urban route yesterday to sketch a few non-human-made things. It was a pleasure to discover there are trees, and even large “unimproved” areas of woods sprinkled along the river, between the downtown airport and the North corridor of warehouses.

I wanted to get out and ride fixed wheel, and there’s a 6km circuit around the airport that is relatively flat and attracts a lot of cyclists. It was fun riding light, fast circles on my 1946 Hobbs of Barbican, but after a while circles get a little old. And I’d noticed the underpass, so I figured the opportunity was ripe for a little urban exploration.

This sad little neighborhood seems entirely forgotten. In fact, I had no idea it even existed. I love coming across hidden gems, but frankly there seemed to be no charm whatsoever in Harlem, Missouri, and it took quite some looking to find anything I wanted to draw. Yet, as I mentioned before – there’s still a certain pleasure in the knowledge that amid all of the urbanization a small pocket of trees can exist, albeit situated within a corridor of blight.

Today began with much needed rain, but as the precipitation trickled to a stop and the winds began to kick up, I decided to explore the south side of the river, just opposite Harlem in downtown Kansas City’s River Market. There’s a river front trail that meanders some 15 miles or so, crossing from Missouri into Kansas, and I was interested in discovering what there was to be seen along the way.

Not knowing if the path was gravel or paved (it’s well paved), or if sections of the trail followed city streets (it does), I took my Cycles Toussaint Velo-Routier. The 650b tires are not only a good choice for gravel, they do a nice job absorbing the crappy road conditions in downtown Kansas City, not to mention the urbanized neighborhoods I had to pass through to get from small town Liberty to my city destination.

The trail sounds like it would be fun, if not especially long. But alas! The exploration wasn’t to be. So many roads are under construction in the area, sidewalks and streets completely blocked off, and I could only get so far before finding myself at an impasse. The trail is bisected, and sliced and diced and literally shredded apart: I never found a safe way to cross the midpoint to continue. I wound up riding around on streets familiar to me, pedaling around the farmer’s market, and then taking a slightly circuitous and definitely leisurely route back again.

Tomorrow is, of course, a new day. Maybe I’ll ride out and explore another part of the city after work.