I rode my bike to work today! I’ve wanted to do this ever since I moved closer to work.
Fear and Uncertainty
What held me back was fear and uncertainty. It was something that I have never done before, and fear often accompanies new things. It seems silly to be afraid to ride a bike to work, but I was. I’m accustomed to the surroundings of my car where I feel safely enclosed. On the bike it’s me and the elements, open and exposed.
Another thing that held me back was safety. I wasn’t sure how safe the route would be. Part of the route has no sidewalks so I have to ride in the street. Most of this non-sidewalk route is a wide four lane road with a low speed limit. But, part of the way was a skinny two lane highway with no shoulder and a high speed limit. Cars really wouldn’t have much room to pass a bike rider on that stretch of road, and I wouldn’t have felt safe riding there.
This small half-mile stretch of road caused me to put off biking to work. It was just too dangerous.
I scoped out other routes. My normal driving commute is actually a shorter route, but it’s a very busy highway and it also has long stretches with no shoulder. So, my preferred route was longer, but it was safer (with the exception of one small stretch).
At one point a few weeks ago, we drove down this dangerous stretch of road and I happened to glance over to the side of the road. I saw a sidewalk! At some point during the past year a sidewalk was added to this dangerous stretch of highway.
That really got me thinking about biking to work again.
This week I was really thinking about it a lot. We had a cold snap earlier in the week where it got down near freezing. Then it warmed up and I knew this week would be a good one. I made the decision last night. I needed to get up early, and if I woke up in time, I’d do it. I needed to wake up at 5am to have a shot at this. I start work at 6:30, so that gave me 30 minutes to get ready for work and one hour for the commute. It’s a 9.5 mile (15.3km) ride, so I figured I could ride about 10 mph (16kph) and make it to work in one hour.
I’m Doing It
I actually woke up early this morning without the alarm clock. I guess I was excited about my first bike commute. I have a red blinking light on the back of my bike, but I don’t have a real headlight. To remedy this I used a bungee cord to attach two LED flashlights. I attached the lights this morning and headed out on my commute.
I started out wearing a sweatshirt. The temperature was 63 F (17 C). Normally that’s a little chilly, but I warmed up quickly after I started riding. I had to shed the sweatshirt half way and put it in my backpack.
The ride was nice. It was early in the morning, so traffic was light, making street crossings easy. I had one small hiccup not long after I started. I hit a bumpy patch of side walk and my water bottle popped out of my cup holder. It fell right in front of my back wheel and was crushed. It was just a bottle of spring water, so no real loss other than not having any water for the remaining 8 mile journey.
Shortly after that small snafu, my spirits were lifted as I saw two deer grazing at the edge of a field. That was really cool. We never see dear in the city, but this was a small stretch near a conservation area and apparently there are some deer living there.
I biked on, enjoying the morning air and the slower pace of bicycling.
Towards the end of the commute I started getting tired. I began thinking, “maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.” That was a quick mood change, from enjoying the ride to wondering if maybe this was too far to ride. It turned out those bad thoughts were only about a mile from my destination and I soon turned the corner into the parking lot.
I wasn’t sure where I was going to park my bike, but when I arrived I found a nice covered walkway near the entrance. It a wide walkway and I parked off to the side. I was really thirsty when I arrived, so I made my way to my cubicle, grabbed my water cup, and headed down the hall to the water dispenser. I sucked down a glass of water. That water tasted fantastic.
I’ll have more to share in my next post. I’ll talk about the ride home and tell you a little about my bike. Until then, I want to hear from you. Have you ever commuted by bike? If not, would you ever consider it?