Just inside the back door of the home I grew up in hangs a small, artsy-craftsy sign that reads, “Back door friends are best.” I suppose that sign still hangs by that back door; truthfully, I haven’t checked in years. But I think that’s a very true sentiment. Only your best friends approach your house at the back door. Formal visitors and strangers would never presume to knock on the back door, and most of us would get creeped out by strangers lurking around the back of our homes.
So what does this have to do with biking . . .
This afternoon, I biked up to Buchanan, MI, from South Bend. A pretty traditional route out of the River Park/Sunnymede neighborhood: Wayne to St. Louis to Madison to Niles to Northshore to the new River Trail. Then on up Riverside Dr. to Darden to Lilac (in Michigan, Lilac turns into Copp) to Bertrand Road. West on Bertrand to Mayflower, north on Mayflower to Chamberlain, west to Rynearson, and north on Rynearson into downtown Buchanan.
I want to write about Chamberlain . . . Buchanan’s “back door” for bicyclists entering from the south. Chamberlain has to be the worst stretch of road I’ve ridden in some time. And that’s the problem. See, we bicyclists don’t enter towns via the pristine automobile routes. We enjoy (OK, we are forced by our desire for safety) the backways and byways of Indiana and Michigan’s county roads and enjoy finding a quieter route from place to place. But often, these back door entries are not in the best shape.
Buchanan, MI, just happened to be the town I visited today. But I’m sure many of you could point to county road entry points into many small towns surrounding the South Bend metropolitan area and could provide details of how those roads surely need some attention.
So how about it small towns? If back door friends really are the best, how about you do a bit of sprucing up of those roads we back door friends travel to visit you? I know I’d appreciate it.