So I’ve now ridden my bike to work a total of five times, twice this week and I might do it again on Friday to replace the day of cycling I’m missing on Wednesday do to a social engagement (going to the zoo for free with Diane… in choice between bikes and animals, animals always win, so long as they aren’t running after my bike). Anyway, I’ve made several observations on my morning commute that I’d like to share here…
1. Red pick-up trucks pass too close. Always. I’m serious. I don’t know what it is about the color red on a pick-up truck but it seems to radiate a message of “I ain’t movin’ aside for any of ya’ll [insert expletive of your choice] cyclists.” These are the people most likely to express their feelings of distaste as they pass. In fact, just about a month ago, one such gentlemen passing in a red pickup truck on State Road shouted rudely told us all just how he felt about us as we ABCers regrouped at the top of Truxell. This gentlemen did not hesitate to share with us his other prejudices by using an abusive word for homosexuals. Nice. Also, I’m pretty sure that the guy who threw trash on me last year was in a red pickup truck. It was dark and I couldn’t tell the color, but it was definitely a pickup truck–one of those “big bubba” kind with the diesel engines–and my guess is that it was red.
2. Suspected fellow commuters. There is a gentlemen sporting a uniform like an auto mechanic’s on a hybrid or mountain bike who passes me every time I ride at about where the bike path crosses Bridgewater Blvd. I’m guessing he’s commuting too. I’m wondering if he likes to do it, or–I know, I’m overly suspicious–he’s forced to ride to work because he has a DUI. He seems pretty nice. He always nods at me as I pass.
I also see a few other dudes with rack packs or panniers passing along the bike path. I wonder if they are commuting.
3. Deer like Boston Mills Road. Not a day–morning or night–has gone by without a sighting of a deer along Boston Mills Road to send a jolt of fear through my body. You never know what those suckers are going to do–are they going to cross the street? go back from whence they came? come charging at you? Either way, it scares the crap out of me, causing me to unclip. I even saw one on my climb up Boston Mills this afternoon. Right after I saw a dude go whizzing by me in that really steep part after (for me but before for him) the I-80 bridge. Yikes!! That’s why I can’t get myself to speed between the two hills before the bridge. (Which you kind of need to do to get up the next hill.)
4. The valley is quiet in the morning. Which makes for great, pleasant travel. In the evening, it’s more busy and less pleasant. But I’m used to it since I ride in the valley with ABC.
5. An hour goes by fast when you’re enjoying the commute. No one seems to understand that at work when I tell them how long it takes. They’re thinking in terms of being bored in their cars. They don’t understand the exhilaration from a morning work out and the view of the world seen slowly (slower than a car, anyway) from the bike seat. Everyone should do it, there’d be a lot less road rage.
6. Snowville is a frakking long road. I thought the little “steps” on the road make it easier, but it really makes it harder because there’s a lot of gear-changing going on. I have to do the first part in granny, then for about a mile I can handle my middle ring, but at last I must switch into granny again to get up a few small but tough parts, most notably, that hellish little bump in front of Old Orchard Road. Ouch!! I almost think Columbia would be better because after the really hard part at the beginning, it tapers off into a steady steepness which is easier to manage. Still, I am not complaining. I love the fight!
7. The long way home is an adventure. I’ve been taking a direct route to work and the not-so-direct route home on these beautiful days I’ve been afforded. I’ve learned some new streets and explored. My route to and from work is “general.” I can chose what hill to climb or descend and there’s several different ways, so I can’t get bored with the same-old, same-old route. I didn’t have such choice on my commute to Boulder from Broomfield.
8. Once you’re on the bike, you feel inspired to not use your car at all. Just this week, on the way home from work, I purposely directed my route to allow me to stop at an ATM to pick up some cash; today I rode from work to a meeting I had at my church in Kent, adding 6 extra miles to my route and taking me on parts of the Bike & Hike trail that I don’t use so much. I like not using my car for a day or two. Not only do I feel more “green,” but that’s less money in gas I have to pay for a very short commute to work.
9. I’m filled with energy! Gotta love the endorphins! The extra energy helps me better deal with the day at work. I find myself more patient. Even though I’m still stressed. In the evenings, I feel like I can still take on the world. Which makes it hard for me to get to bed. It’s like going to work out after work… it gives you almost too much energy.
10. I love the freedom of cycling more than any other activity. Duh. That much is obvious. But the commute to work in the still of the morning, while the rest of the world is hardly stirring, awakes within me a zest for life. I know that I should take up some other activities–I’d love to learn to kayak, I haven’t gone hiking in forever–but I just can’t stop myself from getting into that saddle. It feels so good. Work out and freedom of the road. What more could you ask for?
Well, pleasant motorists and a lack of road rage. Keep dreaming, I know.