I LOVE riding my bike so I’ll take any excuse I can to sneak in a ride! If you have been reading my blog for a while you know I started biking to the grocery store. I have been biking to work for a few years now – not every day, sometimes I wake up too late or the weather is bad, or I’m feeling lazy 🙂 but the days where it works out just seems to start my day off right!
The area I live is NOT bike friendly at all – I hear of towns and cities where there are special bike lanes and tons of people bike commute to work, not here. I would LOVE to live in an area that is more bike friendly, but I don’t so I just have to be a little more careful.
When I first started riding to work, I would go through a development and then have to cross over a fairly busy street to get to my job. I always do what I can to be visible to drivers like wear the brightest colors I can. People at my old job would make fun of the fact I wore a helmet – I have to admit all the peer pressure made me cave and the ONE day I didn’t wear my helmet I almost got hit by a car who was coming from the opposite direction and made a left turn in front of me. I am not kidding when I say it was one of the scariest moments of my life – they were probably a foot away from my front tire – didn’t even look, just turned almost into me. I literally had a vision of flipping over the hood of the car. I was shaking as I arrived at work and guess what – I have worn my helmet EVERY TIME I have commuted since.
I remember one time a few summers ago I got caught in a freak rain shower on the way home – couldn’t do anything about it, I had to keep going. Cars were slowing down and I saw the drivers looking at me with pity, until they realized I was actually having a blast – beaming from ear to ear. I would see them smile, laugh and drive off.
A variety of things have changed for me over the years – I got a new job which is only slightly farther away so I can still ride, I got a better bike which makes a HUGE difference in how fast I can get to work, I found an alternate route through a park so although I still have to cross some roads they are not usually as busy, and I got Ortleib panniers so I can carry everything I need for the day instead of shoving it all into a backpack. I can fit everything I need into one pannier and it is bright yellow with reflective areas on it which helps me be visible to cars.
So what exactly do I bring with me? I bring clothing to change into, my lunch, a little makeup, my wallet and that’s about it. I leave a small bag at work with soap, deodorant, shower shoes, etc so I can take a quick shower when I get into work – that way my coworkers don’t suffer – LOL! 🙂 At my old job there was not a shower easily available to me, but there were plenty of bathrooms I could just wash up in the sink.
So far all this sounds like a pain in the butt right? I mean getting up early, almost getting hit by cars, showering at work…it’s not – for me it is the perfect way to start my day. Sure I have to plan a little extra to make sure I have everything and leave a bit earlier than I would if I had to drive, but it is totally worth it. This week as I was riding through the park I saw a bit of movement up ahead – at first I thought it was a dog. It is getting dark earlier so I was having a hard time seeing what it was. I stopped and thought oh man, I am gonna get attacked by a dog in a second, but it was as still as a statue. My next thought was that it was a tree – it was pretty tall, my eyes were probably just playing tricks on me right? Yup, a tree off to the side of the trail….I rode a little closer – I could not tell if it was legs I was looking at or just multiple skinny trees. I slowly inched forward while I was going back and forth between it being trees and a Great Dane. I couldn’t turn around or I would be really late for work. Suddenly I saw it for what it really was – a HUGE buck standing there off to the side of the trail staring at me. It was now probably 10 feet away. Sure I have seen deer before but not a buck so close to me – it was beautiful. I slowly tried to grab my phone to take a picture even though I knew it wouldn’t come out with the lighting so dim. He moved off the trail, but didn’t go far – I tried to take a picture, but of course it’s a brown deer next to brown trees in the autumn woods at daybreak – it didn’t look like anything. He stood and watched me from on top of the hill as I rode by. It was AWESOME!
For me, encounters like that make it TOTALLY worth riding my bike to/from work. I get chance encounters with deer, ducks, groundhogs, squirrels, stray cats etc all while getting some fresh air, exercise and doing something good for the planet – sure sometimes I get to the top of the hill trying to catch my breath and I’m just sucking in the smell of skunk, but it just makes for a funny story! 🙂 It’s a win/win situation! 🙂
Have you ever gotten a chance to bike commute? What are some issues you face or are you lucky enough to live in a bike friendly area?