Guest post: Your Commute Sucks.

My friend dan (or somecallme_danimal) likes to send us over words from time to time. Chances are those words are pretty entertaining and I like to share them with you. Here is a little tale of a ride we know so well. The commute.

Your Commute Sucks.
it wasn’t hard at all.  i have two short and steeps that always bring me out of the saddle, and always will due to the pitch.  the rest of the short ups follow the second short and steep, and another is simply a roller between two flats right before i get to work.  i have always perched up on the front of the bike, riding front wheel heavy out of the saddle because of the comfort i find… makes it easier to dance.  but yesterday, i stayed seated.  sure, the two short and steeps lifted me, but the rest, i was able to just keep a solid cadence and roll over with what seemed like too little effort for the speed i was traveling.  when i arrived at work, i felt like i wasn’t finished… because i wasn’t.
my commute home. up through the valley on the paved road, i found a rabbit to chase.  some dude on a cross bike with a team kit (but who knows who he was because i see World Championship stripes occasionally on people that are not World Champions).  so i dug in.  as i rolled by, Clutch blasting in my ears, the taste of beer still on my lips, and a glance to my right saw him smiling as big as me.  he was digging too, working like a dog, and loving it.
then i hit dirt.  everything has been freshly graded.  the parking lots, fire roads, and the trails.  the soft, dry earth sprinkled with gravel makes for a slippery time no matter the direction, pitch, or speed.  the one hundred and eighty degree turn lifts me again as i pass the gate, perching me on top of the front wheel, and this is where i will remain for the two mile ascent.  my balance constantly shifting fore and aft, fighting for traction, surging with power, leveling the two harmoniously to keep the momentum of my forward movement constantly in check. sweat glides down my forearms pooling between my palms and the brake hoods worn from a decade of white knuckled grip.  i find my rhythm, and begin to dance.
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half way up, i feel no pain.  just pressure and time.  as the trail pitches, wheels slide, and tires break, smiles emerge from within greeting each attempt to halt, only to be overthrown with style and grace.  the final push arrives, a pitch that should not be possible, but i have never been shut down.  today will be no different.  i own this.  i dig.  deep.  charge.  fight.  gripping the hoods, forcing the bike to continue forward, abusing it, punishing it, twisting and mangling, as sweat pours from my brow dripping from my lips, smattering across the top of the stem.  the final lunge settles me back in the saddle, and i feel the lactic acid flush from my legs as they begin to spin up into a more relaxed and calming cadence.
reaching the top, the trail begins it’s thread down into the valley as i slide back into the saddle, level my feet, and relax my grip.  quickly i find momentum through gravity, which turns into a blistering pace on the edge of disaster, tires break loose as we slide around each turn with confidence, aggression, and power.  the bike dances beneath me, plowing through deep gravel, soaring over trenches, and begging for more.  as we achieve maximum velocity, the wind cools me, and the sweat begins to evaporate.  my vision begin to lengthen and intensify, far into the distance, scanning for anything that could steal my momentum.  and i begin to fly.
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nearing the base of the valley, my hands relax as the trail begins to straighten in front of me.  i can do nothing to increase my speed coming in for the landing as we have exceeded the maximum my legs can handle with this gearing, and braking is always out of the question.  i relax, and glide toward a cut in a grove of trees, my vision widens, and staring right at me is a bobcat.  looking at me with confidence and no fear, the cat trots to the side of the trail only to pause and watch me speed by.  no nerves, no worry, just two animals sharing, and respectfully agreeing together to give up enough space to remain out of each others way, but not interrupt the tasks at hand.
around the corner a quick up takes me through another about face, and the trail levels bringing me to my next turn.  prompted by one of the short access trails i use to get from one to another being closed – i’m excited to find another way because i didn’t know any other way.
i worked my way up the trail, one i have never graced, until i found a right to get me across the road and back onto dirt.  through a parking lot and onto the pave, my typical dirt is off to the right, but a long pave climb stands before me, and another rabbit.  i dig.  the tires grip the pave like glue, the pitch is almost constant yet unrelenting, and again i am lifted and perched, finding timing, a rhythm, and i begin to dance.  my movements stay a constant tempo for the duration of this ascent, and when i finally glide to the top, three choices lay before me.  two down, one up.  i never stop, just keep dancing.
i reach the pinnacle of the climb, and for the first time i stop.  scanning the horizon i drink in the vast topography below me.  the waves crashing against ancient volcanic rock, with a heavy green carpet draped over anything with enough traction for life.  another smile, my head lowers, the distinctive sound of metal clutching metal rings as i stomp back into my pedal, and begin down the steep grade.  the edge of the world drops to my left into Poseidon’s home, as green carpet peppered with orange poppies lines the path before me.
braking before the turns, powering out, on the edge of crucial velocity.  an aggressive hard right, back on dirt, plowing over water bars and washed out ditches.  my focus is tuned to nothing around, i can not even hear the music jammed into my ears, the only focus is the thin ribbon of terrain before me.  taking one’s attention away for a split second results in only catastrophe.  a final lunge, hard right, exhale, and i’m perched again for the final climb out.
i dig.  sweat begins to drip again, collecting with familiarity.  as i peak the steepest up, and with a hard left, i settle back into the saddle grinding into the dirt as if i am still in space and time, and i am the one turning the earth below me.  cutting through the switchbacks, the deep gravel and soft earth swallow my wheels, but i am able to break them free time and time again, forcing my machine to continue to follow my commands as i guide it to suppress it’s arguments.
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 reaching the final intersection at the top, and again faced with the three previous decisions, i decide it is time to head home.  i roll over the peak and begin the last paved descent, sitting up, stretching and relaxing all the tension from my body.  another exhale.  as i begin to slide into the first turn, a woman rolls up next to me, looks over, and smiles.  i smile back, and motion that is is time to go.  i throw every last remaining bit of power left in my legs and spin back up to maximum velocity, tucking to grab the drops, and dive in.  a quick look over my shoulder has her right on my wheel, grinning from ear to ear as we plow down the mountain together.  we slalom through the turns, dodging tourists and their machines, twisting around obstacles and straightening turns.  at the bottom, i give one more look back, our eyes meet, and we silently give a final thank you with a shared smile.  she continues straight as i peel off to the right to slow my pace and make my way across the Golden Gate Bridge, and back home.

 

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About dirty biker

I am a fan of singletrack, singlespeeds and single malt. Currently in Asheville, NC

21 thoughts on “Guest post: Your Commute Sucks.

  1. My commute consists of commuting from the bed to the coffee pot; thence to the futon in the family room where I ponder the merits of riding and then drinking versus drinking and then riding. Sometimes the whole day is spent in such deliberation.

  2. Pingback: Guest post: Your Commute Sucks. | PEDAL CANTON

  3. Gawd I hate to say it but I’m with joe. Tween retirement and beer, I’m fucked bike wise.

  4. Hell of it is I LOVED my work. Even when I was driving upwards of two hours one way to work a ten hour shift, I lived it.

    I’d still be doing it if I could, as long as I have breath in my body and strength in my hands. Lord knows I’ve been looking for a gig.

    Getting a couple interviews a month, but the writing is on the wall. No one wants to hire an old electrician. If you ain’t twenty years old with fifty years of experience, you’re fucked.

  5. Know that Joe.

    Realistically, This job is my last gig & they definitely moving me towards the door.

    Wife & I are moving towards doing doing more community work.

    You take care out there.

  6. No worries mate. Long as I can turn a crank and blow the froth off a few it’s all good.

    cheers

  7. So the three most cantankerous bastards on these pages gather here to piss and moan about getting old. I always knew I was a better man than you old ladies. I turn sixty this year and the way I handled it was by strapping my tool pouch back on and jumping back into the trenches with the kids.

    I catch a lot of hell for being old and slow and there are times during the day when I am sure I am gonna die…but I am still here and every once in awhile, out there on the front lines, it turns out that I am the only one who knows what to do.

    My old Schwinn LeTour is only days away from being put back together and when she is, soon enough, I am gonna document a fast Century and write about it and you old biddies can shove it straight up your asses.

    Thus Sayeth Old Tim Joe.

    Yer friend, the Trailer Park Cyclist

  8. @Tim Joe Cocksuck

    Nice to hear you still have knees that work.

    Grow up asshole.

  9. And to head off any more hate mail, let me retract my statement. I do have knees that work (everyday) and perhaps it was insensitive of me to denigrate crippled persons like what’s his name. Hurben, you never picked a fight with me and I apologize for grouping you in with those other guys. Joe…well…whatever.

    Listen, it was meant as a jovial challenge of the same type that I endure everyday as the oldest fucker on the crew. You guys may remember that stuff..but probably not. Dirty, I apologize for jacking a stream of conciousness post that left me downstream some fifty words out.

    WTF? Ain’t this still DC? good lord

    tj

  10. Son, I’m glad McDonald’s or whoever still lets you come to work. And I’m glad your bike (Huffy, did you say?) gives you pleasure.

    As to your post being stream of “consciousness”, well, whatever. I think it’s clear to all that you are no Kerouack.

    “Jovial challenge”? I’ll pass, fuckyouverymuch. Anything I’ve ever wanted to prove, I already have done. If you missed it, that’s your loss. My days of going mach 5 with my hair on fire are far behind me and I have no regrets. Now I take the time to savor life’s sweet treats. Nowhere that I have to be, and all the time in the world to get there. Or as a wise man once said:

    1-You’re in the woods.
    2-You’re on a bike.
    3-The faster you go, the sooner you’ll be OUT of the woods and OFF your bike.

    SOWHATSYOURFREAKINHURRY???!!!

    And now my kitteh has just informed me that it’s time for bed. I bid you all good night.

  11. Oh, and to Joe Cocksuck one last thought:

    It should be apparent even to one of your demonstrated abilities that in here, you are not “the oldest fucker on the crew”. I’m sorry if whatever creature that spawned you did not teach you to respect your elders, and while it is not my responsibility to instruct you in such matters, still and for your own benefit I would offer to you the following-“Dude, seriously”.

    And now I really must be off to bed. Where did I put that walker?

  12. My name is Mikey. I an fifty-six years old and I rode my bicycle today. Now I am drinking a Bend OR India Pale Ale.
    That is all.

  13. Mikey

    Glad to see your still around. Now clue what a “Bend OR India Pale Ale” is but I hope it was good.

    Knees not-with-standing I still ride once in a while. Its just in the granny gear and the path must be flatter than a 10 year old girls chest.

  14. Ttt, I still ride fixed gear from time to time. But it’s around 60 gear inches on dead-flat rail trail. Madre de Dios, how bad I suck.

  15. Oh yeah, and the Bend OR beer is probably a local microbrewery’s take on the stuff. Hoppy hoppy, joy joy.

  16. Trailer Park,

    No offense taken, I don’t mind being grouped with Joe & TTT, we go back a way.

    Since we’re sharing, I’m 60, had an Epic life so far, ride MTB, road & am trying to learn to ride my skateboard properly.

    Log a couple of hundred Ks a week, several long rides a year, highlight being the Cycle Challenge in Taupo in November .

    http://www.cyclechallenge.com/

    It’s all good.

  17. You can’t swing a dead cat in Bend OR without hitting an excellent microbrewery. There are more than a dozen. This is what I was sipping when I commented:

    http://www.10barrel.com

    Another old-time favorite is Mirror Pond, they were one of the first microbreweries in the region, goes back to the mid-80s.