Monday, October 09, 2006

Commuting Update

I've been commuting to work on my bike for six weeks now, and it is better than I ever imagined. Every September for the past three years I have set a goal to ride to work, but until this year I have never followed through. My original goal was to ride twice a week, but it so much fun I have only driven to work 4 times since the school year started. Part of my motivation comes from my "new" ride. Actually it is my old Specialized Stumpjumper that I recently converted into a single speed. I love riding a single speed, the lack of gears frees my mind to enjoy the ride more. Part of the reason I bike to work is for the exercise, and riding a single speed provides a little better workout. There are only two hills that I encounter and I can usually climb both without getting out of the saddle. I'm still playing around with the gear ratio though, right now I'm set up with a 42/18 drivetrain, but I just ordered a 38 tooth chainring, so we will see. It's an easy commute, and if anything I wish it were longer.

I've been toying around with the idea of listening to music as I ride, not sure where I stand on this one yet. I like the idea of taking in the world around me (ocean, wind, birds, etc.) as I pedal, but one day last week I borrowed my friend's iPod and blasted TV On The Radio's new album on the way home. Not only did rocking out make me feel like a superhero, but I cut five minutes off my best time. I question the safety of it though, because my mind was definitely into the music, and I am sure I was less focused on the traffic. The jury is still out on this one.

Most motorists in my town are oblivious to cyclists, and the fact that there are no bike lanes I assumed riding to work would be like playing Russian roulette, but I feel totally safe. Most people give me enough space as they pass, even if they throw me an angry look from time to time, but usually they just look confused. Once in awhile you get the jerk in the huge-ass SUV who sees how close they can get to you as they fly by, to be expected. The route I take follows the ocean for 4 out of the 6.5 miles, and this road is not only more scenic than the more direct route to work, but it also has much less car traffic, especially at 7:00am. Riding to work gives me more energy for the day and the ride home is a great way to unwind, so much better than getting in a car. I know that not everyone could ride to work, I live in the town where I work, and I can dress pretty casually (no need to shower when I get to work).


Stats:

Distance (roundtrip) in miles: 13
Traffic lights: 1
Record (to date): 26 out of 30
Rainy days: 1 (caught in heavy downpour on ride home one day, it sucked)
Mechanical difficulties: 1 (chain fell off twice in the same day)
Weird shit thrown at me from passing cars: 1 (Budweiser bottle)
Obscene hand gestures administered: 3
Obscene hand gestures received: 1 (observed)

3 comments:

CHW said...

Excellent post! Let me know how your "record" fairs come winter :) I miss working in downtown Portland. When I did, I was so into my bike. Now it just sits in the garage except for the odd weekend outing. As for listening to tunes during the ride, I've never felt comfortable doing it. I'm scared enough of cars, so I want to be totally aware of my surroundings.

Matt said...

Bike commuting even helps you become a better driver. You see some pretty crazy stuff that motorists do...not to mention the funny music they listen to (and sing along with).

But don't be bashful with the reflective tape, ankle bracelets, and lights. I got some firefighters reflective tape and put thin strips in strategic places like the seat stays, wheel rims, fork, etc.

Anonymous said...

I like it a lot! Very nicely done. :-)..!
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