As we celebrate the national bike to work month, I want to take a pause and reflect what a year of commuting to work on bicycle has accomplished. What a fantastic year it has been, for starters I was one of the lucky recipients of a Jamis Commuter Bike from Bicycling magazine as a result of my essay on "how riding a bike could change my life" being on of the selected ones for the award. I have since, modified the bicycle to make it more suitable to my commute, with a new set of halogen lights for those winter nights, an air horn to alert cars of my presence, fenders to prevent splashing water all over me when it rains, and a pannier that can carry my suit and shirt across the rear rack securely.
One of the biggest accomplishments this year is to celebrate this month and the anniversary by very proudly declaring that I made it through unscathed, injury free, and was never hit by a car; although I have experienced some close calls. However, it is a resoundingly positive balance, I became stronger, more energetic and believe or not... more motivated. I have been able to see neighborhoods from a completely different stand point, occasionally I relish a good dog chase and am proud to report that so far, I have always outsprint them.
Unfortunately, there are days that I cannot ride because my job will require that I drive all over town for meetings and other engagements, usually returning to my office to finish up the day. On those days when I must get behind the wheel and drive, going home is always an unwelcomed event, knowing that no matter what time, I will have to waste a good deal of my life encased in a metal box trying to get home. On the other hand, when I ride, I look forward to the trek home; there is no set route or time limit, just a good old bike ride where the reward is reaching the humble abode in time for dinner with the family.
Usually, however, my primitive brain takes control of the ride and it becomes a pseudo time trial where I try to beat the best time ever, this changes everything … street lights become sprint opportunities, gas stations are short cuts and curbs are meant to be jumped, in the end, it all boils down to the fact that I become a teenager again and the ride rules my world and a world ruled by rides is a much better world.
The travel to work on the bike is a completely different dynamic, contrary to the evening commute, there is a time limit. Although I am not driven by a time clock and I can arrive at work pretty much a whatever reasonable time I please, there is always the underlined desire and effort to set an example for the rest of the team and this drives me to maintain high standard to which I must hold myself so I can expect others to follow suit.
May 21st will be the official Bike to work day, and under the motto of one less car on the road, it is incumbent upon everyone to find a way to leave their vehicles behind that day and ride their bikes in to work. I am expecting to hear all the excuses in the book as to why this is not possible, and frankly, I don’t care, there is only one way this can happen and I can only do my part. In the wake of the terrible oil spill in the Gulf, I have seen a large number of postings of people who claim to want to do something to help and make a difference.
This is our opportunity, throw that leg over the top tube of that bike, and hit the road, your bike powered by your own effort, will take you places that you will never otherwise see.
See you on the road!!! And if you must drive, remember: 3 feet please, it’s the law!!!