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September 03, 2009

bike commuting

I've started commuting to work a few days a week by bike and I'm shocked by how much I love it. I had a rough start to my relationship with this bike - the frame is a tad too long, and the seat - oh the seat - was an abuser. It wasn't until my third seat that things settled down. It still isn't great, but bearable on the bum.

But I'd been thinking about starting to bike to work, for athletic, environmental and economic reasons. A colleague of mine who lives near me does it sporadically, and another colleague did it regularly with her husband before her son was born last year. So I figured, why not? I have a bike? What's stopping me?

Even though I selected one of the year's hottest days to start, I've been deeply surprised by how much I like it. It's like starting off each day with an adventure. Biking safely in the city requires quick thinking, vigilance and problem solving. I ride "a little bit scared" every morning, because I do need to be prepared for many things - potholes, car doors, insane drivers, people who don't signal their intentions and the general invisibility of bicycles to the car driving public. I ride like I'm invisible - defensively - because to many drivers, I am.

I've been surprised too, by how much I now notice bicycles on the road when I'm behind the wheel of my car in a way I never did before. It's like I've join a select group.

I particularly like the ride home. It's all up hill (literally), but I love having that heart-rate raising transition between home and work, and the delight of pedaling into the lowering dark and cooling day.

I suspect as it gets colder that the commute will get more challenging - that it will be harder to carry all the clothes I'll need for the day and dress comfortably for the ride. I worry too about the loss of daylight and the need to get a few more lights to make a dark commute home feel safe. A rack and panniers (or even just a rack to bungie my bag to) will also substantially improve the commuting experience. At the moment, I can't stomach putting the rack on my "racing" bike (since I only have one and it does double duty for commuting and triathlon training/racing.) But the more I commute, the more I dislike the feeling and disruption of my peripheral vision that results from wearing my large backpack.

But, 4 trips in, I'm starting to think I might be hooked. Probably not for everyday, and probably not in ice and snow, but otherwise, I think a few times a week seems manageable and sensible and more than a little fun.

September 3, 2009 at 09:49 AM | Permalink

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