I’ve been tooling around the ‘Ville on my bepetalled cruiser, congratulating myself that I had the brains to insist on a bike with no gears to shift, a coaster break, and a saddle and handlebars that allow me to keep my seat on the seat . At last I can check out the landscape instead of the white line on the road, and, anyway, I’ve never cared for skin-tight spandex on a hot day.
One of my favorite short rides — about five miles round trip — meanders along Batavia Road in the ‘Ville, then onto the Fermilab bike path for a short stretch of its considerable length. Today I remembered my camera, so come with me on my virtual bicycle built for two. I’ll let you squeeze the air horn if you remember to bring a bottle of water.
I want to show you a couple of charming gardens;both of them come right up to the sidewalk.
Old rattan and petunias.
The next three pictures show you the “public garden” created by garden writer (and my colleague at The Village Chronicles) Shawna Coronado. It extends the length of three houses, along the easement between their back fences and the sidewalk. For tired bicyclists and walkers she provides two full-size park benches. This is about half way down the garden path.
A sweet little detail:
Another view — I love the lone ten foot tall sunflower at the end.
Pedaling right along we come to the level crossing for the old EJ&E tracks, now the CN tracks. For thirty years I’ve been hearing trains in the night, and when I’m staying somewhere else I miss that low slow rumble.
Cross those tracks and you’re breathing the same air and biking the same path as a few hundred of smartest people on earth:
Here are the gates. While the property is still open to runners and bicyclists, it’s been closed to non-authorized cars since 9/11. It’s enormous acreage, most of it pure prairie. It houses its own herd of bison (you can smell it downwind) and provides a sort of federal wilderness preserve and wetlands.
When the superconducting supercollider came to town, the locals redubbed it The Atom Smasher, not as alliterative, but more descriptive. And shorter.
Welcome to the home of the Top Quark.
Bring your bait and tackle — this is literally the first time I haven’t seen kids and grandpas fishing here.
A path-side sculpture. Or something. Any atomic scientists in the house?
Breaking the pristine spell of the place, but beautiful and powerful in their own way are the miles and miles of enormous power towers. You need mucho megawatts to smash atoms.
Here’s where I turned around tonight , a big white clapboard building, “Aspen East.” It’s a community center for employees, backed by tennis courts, volleyball courts, and picnic tables. I wonder if they hold keggers in there?
It was hot and muggy, and I’d forgotten my water bottle so I headed home. What I’ve shown you is a fraction of the Fermilab bike path — I was hoping to bring on the bison, the wild apple trees and Fermilab itself. Now that the collider in CERN is #1 Atom Smasher, Fermilab has lost some funding. It will be around for basic research, they say. Oh God, I hope so.
I biked back after about half an hour, only to wait as one of the longest freight trains in memory chugged by.
My street is unremarkable: lots of flags, driveway basketball hoops and nice people. I’ve shown you a tiny snapshot of Warrenville, close up, from behind my handlebars. When I get a lock and chain for my bike, I’ll take you to the library! Be still your hearts.