I used to ride to work all the time. Almost everyday when the weather was nice and I didn’t have shit to do before or after. But that was three years and a different job ago. My last day there I rode in with a bottle full of mimosa and left 3 hours early. It was a good day. I miss it. But I left that job for a much better one. One that is sadly 8 miles further away. I’ve frequently looked for a decent route to ride, but never acted on it. There’s no facilities at the office. No real place to leave the bike inside. No shower. I’d have to change clothes in my office. Just a lonely bike rack outside the south door.
But the other day I said fuck it. On Monday traffic backed up an extra 20 minutes due to an accident and the whole time I was thinking, “I could be riding.” Sure it would take me longer but at least I’d be moving. Plus I’ve had a generally shitty start to the year. So I said fuck it. Riding to work used to make me happy. And yesterday it did once again.
I left about the time I normally would be returning from a morning run. So I got to enjoy the sunrise I always miss because I’m in the shower.
I nodded good morning to five people before even leaving my extended neighborhood. I don’t do that in my car.
There’s a good five mile stretch of canal path that is part of the route. Provides a nice break from the danger of the four wheeled beasts.
Further along I snake through the rich kid part of town. Gated yards, not just neighborhoods. Fortunately it’s traffic free with decent roads. Which is all I would want from this area. Quick and safe passage. Not sure how anyone could foster a sense of community there. On the highway I don’t get to see these homes and golf courses. Most of us are simply focused on trying to get to work and out of traffic. But riding through these streets causes me to think about money, lifestyle, and what I would do if I had that much. It’s much more engaging.
The last seven or so miles are kinda shitty. Four lane road with a big bike lane. Nothing fancy but it does the job. 22 miles door-to-door and took me 90 minutes. Trying to build a new routine can be awkward, so having my team see me all sweaty with my clippity clop shoes was strange. Fortunately the bike I took is my only one not covered with profane and potentially damning stickers. So I avoided too many probing questions.
Then work stuff happened. When it was time to stop doing work stuff and go home, I was excited for once. I got to ride! Even if it took me 50% longer than driving at least I’d be moving. And that’s on a good traffic day. Never seen a crash blocking the bike lane. Plus this route takes me past some of the better dive bars in town. Perhaps it was planned that way? One keeps their Christmas lights up until the Super Bowl. The other is next to a carniceria and you can have tacos and beer for dinner. And on Fridays I can swing by the neighborhood bike shop for their Free Beer Friday.
At the end of the route home is this neat pedestrian bridge that dumps me back into my neighborhood. It’s a nice little welcome home symbol. And on the other side lie a few more watering holes. So if I haven’t decompressed enough during the ride home there’s a stool that will help finish the job.
I hadn’t really forgot how much I loved riding to work, but I was surprised at how quickly it rejuvenated my week. I can’t manage it everyday, maybe twice a week. Something to look forward to if nothing else. This Friday is up next. I’ll catch the sunrise. Sunset on the way home for sure. Then probably a dive bar and some tacos. There aren’t any dive bars or taco shops on the freeway.
So I want to encourage you to give it a whirl yourself. If you have even the slightest opportunity to ride to work go see how it feels. Maybe it’s once a week, or only once a month. But at least you can say you did. See if it turns out to be easier than you thought. Maybe you’ll find tacos. If you need help finding a route, email me. I’m a cartographer by trade. Seriously.
Lastly I want to see and hear about your experience. If you do try riding to work for the first time send me some pictures. If you already ride to work send me pictures and stories too. I feel it’s a lot easier than most of us would think. A little planning and effort can turn your commute around. I’ll share them here every so often. Your experience might encourage someone else to ride their commute too.
email ~ firstname.lastname@example.org