Bike to Work Day: boon or burden?


I really like the idea of bike to work day: time in the sun before work, a casual ride in the sun, the sights, smells and sounds, a slightly smaller shoe size in my carbon footprint.

The idea is great. The reality, not so much.

Let me preface this by saying I've been a relatively serious rider for more than 25 years: I've ridden across Europe, about 1,600 miles, across England, up and down the Irish coast, through France and into Germany. When I lived in upstate New York, my bud Bill and I would shoot for a total of 50 miles afternoons between Monday and Friday with a long weekend ride. My favorites were Middletown, NY to Manhattan or Queens, with a ride over the George Washington Bridge[* and a few laps around Central Park to make 100 miles, a century ride. Bill's wife and my girlfriend du jour[* would meeting us for a night out and a ride back.

Recently though, my job has eaten my life. I've watched other riders out in the sun with a growing sense of envy, so when I remembered bike to work day, I put it on my calendar. The folks here were pretty cool with the idea.

I shot myself in the foot right from the start. I recently moved from Oakland to reduce my carbon footprint[*, and much of my stuff is still in Tupperware.

I ignored my own best advice, the Boy Scout motto of "Be Prepared," and didn't do the simple things that would have made my morning easier. I didn't check out my bike last night or dig out my gear. I also didn't think about breakfast.

All of which left me scurrying this morning. My bike: flat tires. Gear: somewhere in Tupperware. Breakfast: Hah!.

I'm a skinny little guy with body fat in the negative numbers. This sounds good, except I have little in reserve and have to eat pretty much constantly[* so food was the first order of business. Bagel: check.

It took me about 15 minutes do dig out my gear, much to the dismay of my dog, who gets really nervous when I start moving boxes around.[*

Having flat tires on a bike to work day sucks because, in theory, anyway, there's work on the other end and people tend to expect a person to, well, show up. Plus I had to walk a couple blocks in my bike shoes.

All things considered, it was a great ride. I got exactly what I was looking for: sun, some exercise and a fine ride to work. Being a reporter on a bike creates some problems; I had to ride to an interview with the police chief, for example, and I spent the day hoping there wouldn't be any breaking news, like a fire on the far side of town.

I learned a couple of things. I was reminded about how much I love to ride, and also how out of shape I am. I'm still in good shape for a guy my age, but it's that guy my age codicil that bugs me.

And while ride to work day was a good idea, it's the ride home from work, after doing my job all day that will bring the real test.

[*] This is especially cool because sitting on a bike seat means you're higher than the railing and it feels like you can look directly down into the Hudson River. [*] Does anyone else hate the fact there's no good word for an unmarried pair of grown ups? Significant other sounds too clinical and partner sounds like we're in business. Girlfriend? Too immature. Lady friend? Too dowdy. [*] Actually because I'm too cheap to shell out more than $4 a gallon for the commute, but reducing my carbon footprint sounds way cooler. [*]This tends to mightily annoy whatever girlfriend du jour I might have. [*] She probably thinks we're moving. Again.


Like this comment
Posted by Mimi
a resident of Danville
on May 13, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Dear Glen,
Enjoyed reading your article. Keep writing, riding!!!

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