17 August 2016

Why I Need To Make Wrong Turns

Sometimes I wonder whether my subconscious is steering me into wrong turns.

Freud, of course, would argue that it doesn't.  If you'd planned on going one way but finding yourself going another, deep down, you really wanted it.

Maybe he was right, although I still don't understand why I woke up next to at least a couple of the people I've woken up next to.

OK, this is a bike blog.  And my rambling ultimately has to do with the ride I took today--and one I took last week.

I rode to Connecticut again today.  I took a route that, for much of the way, follows the East Coast Greenway--I've been finding more and more of it--and takes me up a few climbs and along a ridge I discovered by making other "wrong turns".  

On the way back, though, I managed to--among other things--ride in a circle of about 15km, unintentionally.  I didn't mind:  It took me by a couple of rocky streams of the kind you expect to see in New England postcards.  Near those streams were some real, live, old-time farm houses and barns.  I guess I should not have been surprised:  I was in horse country.  

I have ridden horses only a couple of times in my life.  Given the chance, I would ride one again.  In the meantime, I am happy to see them.  They give me hope for the human race.  Why?  Well, only a century ago--even less in some places--they were beasts of burden.  In addition to carrying humans on their backs, horses pulled various kinds of farm implements as well as carts on rough roads and barges that plied canals.  Today, they do almost none of those things. But some people--some of whom don't ride--have seen fit to keep them, whether or not they serve any useful purpose.  

They are beautiful, intelligent creatures who generally treat people well, whether or not people are doing the same for them. Humans can do well to learn from them. 

The bicycle, of course, was one of the first things to take away some of the work horses once did.  People could go faster and further on two wheels.  Plus, even in postage-stamp-sized New York apartments, it's easier to store a bike--and cheaper to feed one--than a horse.

Perhaps we should thank horses for doing their work as well, and for as long, as they did--and for continuing to do it on demand.

Anyway, that loop through the horse farms and other bucolic scenes consisted of a couple of winding roads, one of which is called Round Mountain Road.  That name should have told me something!

I guess I subconsciously took those "wrong turns" because I really, deep down, wanted to see something besides downtown Greenwich and Stamford, or even the coast of Long Island Sound.  

Of course, when I am on vacation, I am always taking wrong turns.  As an example, on a day in Paris, I might decide I want to visit a particular museum or to take a ride to some particular site.  But I almost invariably end up following some street or alley or canal or another I hadn't planned on seeing.  Likewise, when I was in the provinces of France or Italy, I might decide that the destination of my day's ride would be some town or site.  But of course, I almost never took the "straight-arrow" route.  

So why does my subconscious steer me along routes the GPS would never dream of?  Well, I guess I am, if nothing else, inquisitive.  I want to see more and know more.  If I am going to spend time in a place, I want to become as familiar with it as I can.  My wanderings make me feel as if I've had a more intimate experience of the place.  For example, I have been to the Picasso Museum several times and can get to it pretty easily.  However, my experience of it seems more complete when I ride through the surrounding area--Le Marais--and, perhaps, find a street or alley I'd never before seen, or hadn't seen in a long time.

Believe it or not, even in the cities and towns and rural areas I know relatively well, it's still not difficult to find and interesting, and even new experience--simply by making a "wrong" turn.

Note:  I didn't take any photos today.  Sorry!  I guess I just got so immersed in my ride that I didn't think of taking pictures.


  1. I have found more joy getting off the beaten track than going straight to multi starred attractions which are usually so crowded that what was worth going to see and the ambiance is long destroyed.

    Thank goodness for the main routes which draw most of the traffic leaving us to enjoy quiet pleasures at a more leisurely pace by car or bike. If driving and see a queue of cars ahead I turn off and see where the side roads take me and take pleasure with my eyes rather than use a camera, the harvest colours and sgraffito effects harvest causes never cease to please me...

  2. Coline--Isn't it funny that, in a way, we should be thankful for those main routes for the reasons you describe? All the traffic that could've been on those roads I pedaled yesterday were on the Merritt Parkway, the New York State Thruway or Interstates 84 or 95.

  3. Yes: I too have been Freudian slipping my way around this old town today.

    But I have been looking at your illustration, the turn signals. The left turn signal is clear: left arm extended. So is the the third picture: right turn, right arm extended. However people here read the second signal (left arm extended and forearm raised) as "Coming to a stop". What with bicycle brigades in the army well within living memory, most remember this as the arm signal given by the officer in the lead bicycle for the column to come to halt.

    The fourth arm signal I would interpret to mean "Help! My arm is broken". Just kidding. I do remember my father using it in the early 50's, driving his 1929 Pontiac that had no turn signal lights. I have never seen it used within the last 60 years.


    1. Oh help! Now I really feel old, I remember my first driving test and having to do the hand signals. The tester was older than my grandfather and clearly knew how to show what he thought of someone will long flowing hair, fald for not looking in the rear view mirror even though I set it way off so that I had to make an exaggerated mover to look in it! I got around town faster on my bike than I ever could by car...

    2. Coline... It might make you feel better if I told you that the Pontiac is still around and functioning. It sounds more like a clock than a car when running. Just keep on cycling and stay in shape.


    3. Leo, glad to hear it, I cannot bear to throw anything away until it is thoroughly broken and I have recycled as many parts as are salvageable. I was not meant for this throw away time...

  4. Now I feel old. I had to do hand-turn signals as part of my driving test, too.

    I've never used those hand signals--or driven.