Thursday, June 26, 2008

I’m commuting by bike…

Yesterday, I began commuting to work by bike, which I plan to do a couple of days each week. The plan is it’ll save me gas (which means money), car repair bills (money), the chance of getting a ticket (money), and… money. Not only that but it will also help me lose a little weight, which would be nice.

But there was plenty that was not on the plan, and that’s what I wanted to talk about today.

Here’s something that wasn’t on the plan: It changes how I look at my commute. Driving feels competitive, to me, needing to beat the other guy, get into the faster lane, move ahead, etc. etc. I get so irritated when I’m in the slowest lane or when I can’t get in the faster lane. And nothing’s more frustrating than the guy who’s slowing everybody… and you can see him… just ahead… and there’s all that empty space ahead of him… But on the bike, it doesn’t feel competitive at all. In fact, I feel connected with the other bicyclists on the river trail, because they’re in the same boat. We’re sharing the trail together. Sure, I need to pass people and people pass me, but most of the time it’s not an issue. We’re not jockeying for position like in a race.

Here’s something else that wasn’t on the plan: Bicycling is so much safer! If I crash on my bike, I might get a skinned knee. I might even break a bone. But I won’t end up mangled flesh in a metal heap. If I have to perform roadside repairs, like fixing a flat, I don’t have to worry about getting run over – in fact, bicyclists will sometimes help each other out!

Here’s another thing: I’m not losing that much time. It takes me about 40 minutes to drive to work and 45 minutes to drive home. The commute by bike takes about 60 minutes to work and 55 minutes (yesterday’s time) to go home. (What can I say? I like going home.) And, since my commute is also my work out, I can skip my morning routine and get a little more sleep. I like that, too.

Finally, bicycling is just easier. I know that sounds counterintuitive but it is. Now, I grant you, I have the perfect situation. Both work and home are very close to the Santa Ana River Trail so I get to stay off of roads 96% of the time and I don’t have to go out of the way. It’s a straight shot up a well-maintained, sometimes pretty (though not often) path. I have showers at work (though keeping a fresh change of clothes is a logistical nightmare). It may not work for everyone. But, I’m telling you, if you can make it work, you should give it a try.

The more I get into riding my bike, the more it turns into an obsession for me. I’m looking into Kevlar tires, for instance, supposed to cut flats by 90%. And Vicky and I are talking about getting a bike rack for the car… so we can drive our bikes to where we want to ride them… like Cambria… maybe, eventually, I’ll talk Vicky into riding our bikes there…

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