Once I'm there, it's a magic carpet ride. The water sparkles, rowers glide, a brave soul jumps in, a woman with blue-gray hair stands on a kayak with her dog and a paddle! My front wheels have mere inches of clearance as I squeeze through the fenced path over Argo Dam. Before my hiatus from the outdoors, there was talk of demolishing it. Instead, I discover the cool new water park beyond it--the Cascades.
The landscape hasn't changed nearly as much as my perspective on it. I used to zip confidently between cars downtown; now I fear they can't see me. On my old bike, I shunned sidewalks as dangerous; now I often choose them, crawling cautiously past alleys and driveways. No longer the big-city veteran scoffing at Ann Arbor's pretentiousness, I'm a low rider now. I don't look down on anyone.
Up above me, pedestrians are unpredictable hazards. On the Diag, they're staring at their handheld screens and barely notice me till I'm on their heels. Everywhere downtown they're weaving three or four abreast. I can't pass, so I wait in line. I'm in no hurry anymore. Some people stop and gawk, some smile or scowl, some point out my "cool bike" to their kids. One woman asks me if she can have a ride. I'm no threat to anyone now. I'm a quaint curiosity--an old guy on a glorified scooter.