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Column: Trips through area reveal many wonders

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My clock reads 7 a.m. as I head outside to load my bike onto my car. As I approach the Columbus Learning Center, I see moms and daughters and groups of friends riding toward it. Cars with bike racks fill the parking lots, and women pedal over to the building where they can register and eat some breakfast.

Why are all these people up so early on a Saturday morning in June? It’s time for the Girlfriend Ride.

Last year was my first time participating in the Girlfriend Ride, and I enjoyed it enough to ride again this year. The Girlfriend Ride is an all-female biking event that raises money for Turning Point, our local domestic violence shelter.

Biking is one of my favorite ways to get some exercise. Nothing quite compares to the exhilaration I feel after pedaling hard up a hill and then flying down the other side. I generally bike through my neighborhood in western Bartholomew County, so I encounter many hills. Riding in the Girlfriend Ride gives me the opportunity to ride where things are flatter. I also like knowing my entry fee supports a good cause.

However, my favorite part about biking is all the beautiful scenery I pass by. In my neighborhood I ride alongside a creek with trees lining its banks. Wildflowers and honeysuckle bushes fill the air with fragrance, while squirrels scamper across the road and up trees. Sunlight filters through the leaves, leaving dappled patterns on the pavement. As I round a curve, I pass a pasture and admire the horses grazing there. The world sure is a beautiful place.

Riding on the Girlfriend Ride exposes me to different scenery. I pass the neighborhood gardens by the airport and see a variety of vegetables growing and people tending their gardens. Soon I am passing fields of corn and soybeans. Occasionally orange daylilies can be seen at the edges of the fields, adding some color to the green of the crops.

The land here is flat, allowing me to see great distances in all directions and admire the neat rectangles of farmland that fill my view. I love all the trees in my neighborhood, but farmland has its own beauty.

The Girlfriend Ride also takes me through neighborhoods set amid the farmland. Houses with carefully mowed lawns and colorful flowers provide scenic variety. As I pedal through these neighborhoods, I am reminded of riding through city neighborhoods on the Tour de Trails ride in May.

The Tour de Trails course I chose follows the People Trails around Columbus, providing yet another kind of scenery to enjoy — parks, rivers and even commercial areas. I start at Mill Race Park and ride next to East Fork White River and the Flat Rock River. The water flows gently between the trees on either bank, and I enjoy the shade of the trees. I ride through many different neighborhoods. Each yard has its own style of landscaping, giving me interesting views as I pass by.

I ride alongside the peacefully flowing Haw Creek when suddenly I find myself on 25th Street passing many businesses as cars whiz by. Happily, I am soon pedaling through Lincoln Park, where I can again enjoy nature. I am also glad my entry fee is supporting the wonderful People Trails that allow us to enjoy the many facets of our city and to get outside and enjoy the beauty of our wonderful world.

As I bring my focus back to the fields around me, I can see the airport buildings in the distance. I am almost done with the Girlfriend Ride. I have enjoyed the easy pace of biking on flat terrain for this ride and the Tour de Trails, but I’m itching to get back to flying down the hills in my neighborhood. I am grateful for the scenic variety we have in Bartholomew County and the opportunity to support good causes while I enjoy that variety.

Many walks, runs and rides support good causes and give you the opportunity to be outside in our beautiful world. Find one of those causes if you’d like, but be sure to take some time to enjoy the outdoors and the beauty of our world whether you bike, run, walk or even drive.

Susan Cox is a mother, an adjunct instructor of English at Ivy Tech Community College – Columbus and a substitute teacher for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. She can be reached at

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