Sunday, March 11, 2007

River Loop

Berkley IS TO Norfolk AS Texas IS TO United States. There are some places that have such strong personality that a cyclist can feel it in the air. Two neighborhoods that I frequent on my bike, Berkley in Norfolk and South Norfolk in Chesapeake, have A-Attitude.

The short (no accuracy guarantee here) story of Berkley and South Norfolk is that they were towns in Norfolk County until the early 1900s. When they feared getting sucked up by City of Norfolk, both tried to become their own cities. South Norfolk got city hood and remained independent. Berkley missed out on becoming a city so Norfolk snatched it in the early 1900s. I have no evidence but I bet it was cuz of tax money available from industry on the Elizabeth River. Later in 1963 City of Chesapeake sucked up South Norfolk.

They got that “Don’t mess with” attitude in everything from grand fathered signage to stained glass churches to chipped paint structures worth a fortune but too content to care. Group homes and no-name institutions find acceptance among the small businesses, taverns, a mixture of perfectly kept and perfectly neglected properties. Ford, The Shipyard, Christmas light wars, a revolving party on the Berkley Bridge. Monday morning shift work looms on slow-moving Sundays. Very rarely do I encounter mad motorists that want me off the road. “Don’t mess with” runs deep and seems to be the root of tolerance for cyclists there.

There is talk about revitalizing South Norfolk but I feel no expectation in the air. The historic homes blend too well with the working class homes to have any concern for a future that will suddenly make them all worthy. I try to imagine Cheesecake Factory or Macaroni Grill on Liberty Street and think of how much more interesting it would be if there were a movement for South Norfolk to secede from Chesapeake.

The River creates a perfect 3-hill repeat loop that includes part of Berkley. Berkley Bridge (#1 in image) to Railroad bridge (#2) to the deadly Campostella Bridge (#3). Repeat x 9. For those who never venture to Norfolk to ride, Campostella is slightly higher than Pungo Ferry Bridge. Today 20mph winds pushed down the Campostella Bridge against my teammates and me as we rode in a Spring-forward fog.

Repeats meant going down the Indian River Road Kill corridor, located appropriately in front of a cemetery. A few weeks ago there was a dead fox. Today it was a poor cat. Speaking of poor cats, there were lots of people tagged by police picking off speeders in light traffic on Indian River and Campostella. Seemed a bit unfair since they never seem to be out there to snag the thousands who speed during the week when traffic is much denser and more dangerous than on this Sunday morning.


Anonymous said...

yes, south norfolk should revolt...

Anonymous said...

yes.. this sounds like an awesome run. i live in norfolk highlands and traffic is a pain though. but let me ask you, do you have a death wish. thats the second worst neighborhood in Norfolk, not to mention the 10 or so murders in that 3 sq mile neighborhood every year. i would know, im NPD. try the west entrance to seashore state park and the bay island bridges, less chance of death.

Liz Schleeper said...

Ha, a death wish. I guess I have a strong belief in not allowing those who harm others to get in the way of my riding. Statistically speaking, I am more likely to die driving to Seashore on I-64 from my Norfolk neighborhood than getting murdered by riding my bike. Plus, Seashore is off road riding and I am discussing road riding (skinny tires) here. 'Preciate ya concern though.