Three weeks ago I started commuting to work by bike.
Today, 10 commutes in, I thought I’d take a stab at describing my experiences with this so far.
Prelude – Steve spends the better part of 2 years contemplating commuting
Yep – 2 years. My riding buddy Rich has commuted regularly for a while now, and it shows. Other riders I know have also noted that this is a great way to get a lot of miles in, and about how great they feel about it for so many reasons.
So, why’d it take me so long? Two main issues – first the route. It’s 15-16 miles from home to work and no matter how you go there are some pretty busy streets to deal with. I thought about this and plotted courses for quite a while before picking one that I thought would work. Then I test rode it last summer and even on a Saturday dealing with Lark and Bascom in San Jose was pretty daunting. Back to the map and I found a route that looked like it would work, and a test ride confirmed it. 16.6 miles home to work. I was all ready, but still didn’t start. Second issue: fear of facilities. I’m not sure why I couldn’t get around this, but even though there’s a shower in ‘building 2’ here at work (I work in building 1, buildings 1 and 2 are conjoined) I just didn’t like the idea of riding to work and then trudging to the shower to start my day. But somehow a combination of winter weight gain and great February weather convinced me to give it a try.
Its still early day for this experiment. So far I’ve ridden in 10 times (and home 9, as of this moment). The route to work has stayed pretty constant. If I get on the road before 7 (ideally 6:45 or so), I miss a lot of morning commute traffic and get to watch the sun rise. I’ve dealt with one flat tire (and am plotting my revenge on the gardener I saw blowing rocks and dirt into the bike lane near the scene of the crime), stopped once to help a lost motorcyclist find his way (google maps to the rescue), taken 3 or 4 wrong turns (mostly harmless), and adjusted the route home about 8 times.
Also, I’ve discovered the bike commuters secret. Because I’m nice, I’ll give it away here for free. All you have to do is be able to get out of bed and get dressed and get on the bike in the morning. Once you’re at work, the secret comes into play – you’re at work, your bike is there with you, and your car is not – so no matter what, you have to ride home. This leads inevitably to a 30-33 mile round trip, and boy to those miles add up. No more weeks of not feeling up to a big ride in the evening after work and then trying to make up for it with extra miles on the weekend. Now, I get to saturday with 65-100 miles already logged for the week. That’s the secret.
- Gloves: Random solo glove sightings continue to be one of the quirkier things I see when out riding. Currently there’s a heavy duty rubber work glove lying in the bike lane on Pollard ave. How did it get there? Does it miss its glove buddy? No one knows.
- The Mercury News Weather Page is not a valid reference for tomorrow mornings temperature. This matters more than you might think. The ride home, even if its cool out, is ‘end of day sun still up’ cool – so, 60+. The morning ride is cool, or even pretty damn cold. If I don’t dress right, this makes for a kinda miserable experience. Unfortunately, the weather page doesn’t update, and is now no longer trusted to help make apparel decisions.