I realized something today as I was working getting ready to teach 3 upcoming classes (which, could ALL start on the same day. No pressure though….). Since my wife and I are going out to dinner for our 4th wedding anniversary (Can you believe it? 4 years and she still likes me! (Love you babe!)) I rode the bike into work today.
The ride itself was uneventful. No rain, not overly cold, no family of raccoons on the side of the path or mudslide trying to take me out clean. However, this is the start of my second year as a bike commuter!
A little over a year ago, I started at the Mighty P in the training department. A week after I started, some guy I’d never met emailed me an invitation to join the our team for the Cascade Bike Clubs Commuter challenge. May is bike commute month in Seattle, but they start rallying participants in April.
They are smart to call it a challenge! Now I am not the most competitive guy, but I like to try my hand at things people call challenges. Especially when I succeed in it. Calling it that made me WANT to be able to add my miles to the list.
Up and until that point, I had talked about biking to and/or from work, but like many people, it is a WHOLE lot easier to talk about it than to get started. With the joining of the team I was “forced” to ride. I can’t honestly tell you if I had a plan back then, but I am not sure when I started I would’ve told anyone that a year later I’d ride home from work more days than not a year later!
I had to learn a lot over the years. The first was night riding! I honestly had never done this before. If I ride to work, I need to leave at 5 AM, at the latest, to be able to get there, shower, and get ready for the day. The main roads around me have enough street lights that it is easy to see. But the Burke-Gilman (the multi use trail I use) trail does not.
Along the path, especially in the trees, it’s black as can be. Worse, there are bright lights around homes just before the darkest parts! This kills the night vision. I learned, at least for me, riding in the dark involves sight, sound AND feel to stay on the path. Then add to it, riders who travel sans any illumination at all, it can be an interesting ride. Ninja joggers appear out of nowhere as well!
The first few times, I was a bit tense and nervous because of the dark. Today? Shoot I didn’t even notice it. Now I honestly enjoy it, as it feels almost like flying.
I’ve ridden in freezing cold, bundled so thick I couldn’t put my arms down, blazing heat and gully washing rain. I’ve dodged that family of raccoons I mentioned, as well as mud slides, little kids, baby jogger strollers and rat sized dogs (or were they dog sized rats?)
I’ve also had to upgrade my equipment. Our cats got be water proof panniers for Christmas, the REI garage sale resulted in a much better rain shell.
I also found a better pair of night glasses than these
and great waterproof gloves. I also had to buy the new bike when mine was stolen at the office, but they wet up indoor parking a week later. A great response!
The best part though? I get home (or to work) and my workout is done. My commute NEVER goes slower because of traffic. My stress level is reduced instead of heightened by the trip, and it’s just plain fun.
Today, I did something I NEVER do. Mr “I bike alone” ponied up and set up the commute challenge today. I am team captain. I am hoping that one person will see this, and end up riding as much as I do. I know how much I enjoy it, and I’d like everyone to be able to.
Regardless though, the weather is getting better, the days drier and warmer. I will soon be putting away the cold weather gear (but NOT the rain shell). The cycling tan has already started, which is good, the legs were blinding people! I will also occaisonally take a longer training ride after work.
So here’s to the second year of cycle commuting and here is my challenge to you. If it is possible at all, ride to or from work, do it, just for fun. You might decide it’s not for you. But maybe, JUST maybe, you will like it as much as I do!
But watch out for rat sized dogs and raccoon families!