Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bicycle commuting

In the early 80s, I started making the 1.5-mile one-way commute to work on an 30-year-old internal-hub three-speed bicycle wearing no helmet, and in my regular dress clothes and shoes.

A few years later, I fell in with the cycling crowd and upgraded to a very nice Motobecane touring machine, adding racks an panniers to carry my dress clothes and grooming items. I took a job eight (uphill) miles from home and looked forward to my daily commute. I appended some steep, short hill climbs to my evening commute, and changed to a more scenic 10-mile morning commute. Of course, by then I was wearing purpose-built bicycle clothing and shoes. Many of my co-workers commuted by bicycle, including a "non-bikie" woman who rode an unrelenting uphill for 1.5 hours to get to work on a relatively heavy bicycle. Kept my 10-mile commute in perspective.

At that point in my life, I traveled almost everywhere by bicycle: grocery shopping, visiting friends, trips to the coffee and yarn shops, and, of course trips to the gym.

Now I live about 2.5 miles from work, and ride a downtube folding bicycle to work. My idea was to fold the bicycle, slip it into its carry bag, and hide it in my closet instead of leaving my trusted steed to the tender mercies of the bike rack. That did not work out, but I still love commuting by bicycle, made even more sweet by the fact that commuting is the only type of riding I do.
Bicycle commuting is easier than most people think. It is easy to carry clothing and personal items in a backpack. Although commuters may need to find an alternative to their usual main arterial route to work, making the trip by bicycle sometimes take less time. For me, the 2.5-mile commute takes me right to the door of my building, saving me the 7-minute trek from my parking lot. The total time in door-to-door commute is equal. Of course, I need to arrive a bit early to clean up, change, apply make-up, and undo the effects of helmet hair, but it is all worth it.

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