Regular readers will know I’m not much of the “urban cyclist,” commuting to work by bike or puttering about town, running errands or visiting friends. When I’m on my bike, I’m almost always exercising and/or exploring. It’s a strictly recreational experience for me. That’s what made yesterday unusual – I actually rode my bike on an errand.
The time had come to sell my pickup truck at the local Carmax dealer, about seven miles from home in most congested part of the county, near the Potomac Mills Mall. With 225 stores, this is the largest outlet mall in the state and its Wikipedia page boasts that it is the top tourist attraction in Virginia. It is part of a vast retail zone, probably about six square miles in area and servicing tens of thousands of cars daily. Yesterday evening, it also had a cyclist.
I brought Old Ironsides with me to the sale and, after concluding my business, set about going home at the end of the rush hour. On my way, I took a brief detour to visit an oddly placed cemetery located between the mall and an Ikea furniture store. Once upon a time, this was a country farm and the Nash Family Cemetery is all that remains. There are about 20 graves located there, surrounded by an iron fence and some bushes. The graves date from the late 1800s to 1961. As I was leaving the site, a man walked up to me and said, “Are those graves real?” When I told him they were, in fact, genuine he was amazed and said, “I don’t think many people even know that it is there.”
He’s probably right. No doubt thousands of people drive by or park their cars within a few hundred feet of the cemetery while on their shopping errands without any idea of what is located there.
Not far from the cemetery, on a road which creates a giant loop around the mall, is a historical marker which alludes to the area’s more rural past. Readers who do not live in the Western Hemisphere will have to excuse the use of the term, “ancient.” All things are relative!
I made the seven mile journey in 45 minutes – a 7.9 mph pace that should indicate just how challenging it is to get around town in rush hour traffic. Although it was rush hour and I saw several thousand cars, I saw no other cyclists and only five people walking. Welcome to the American Suburbs at the start of the 21st Century, where the automobile remains King.