Yesterday I decided to observe and celebrate the first day of spring by bike commuting for the first time in 2012.
For me, getting organised for “the commute” is a serious undertaking. It’s 30 km each way so a lot of clothing layers are required to be prepared for all the weather possibilities this time of year in Calgary, and my preferred route follows a combination of surface streets and bike paths, so proper lighting, reflective clothing and a bell are all musts. Additionally, I drive a work truck, so if I am going to ride to work, I first have to make sure my truck is there should I need it during the day.
I also need to make sure I have a sufficient amount of clean work clothes at the office to last me the week, or at least as many days as I plan on biking. It is too much to pack the clothes back and forth each day along with my lunch, especially without getting my clothes overly wrinkled. I regularly give presentations to large groups of Engineers and clients so I need to look at least quasi-respectable. To this end, I removed the shelves and quietly made some other modifications to a “book cabinet”
in my office. Note the chain lube sitting on top:
Any week that I plan on commuting by bike, I pack everything I will need into my truck on Sunday night. I drive to work on Monday morning, unload everything into my office, and then park my truck in the shop until I next need it. I bike home at the end of the day, and continue biking back and forth until Friday afternoon, or until something comes up that requires me to drive home. This means that when I wake up each morning, regardless of the weather or how tired or lazy I am feeling, my vehicle is 30 km away, and I am Committed to the Commute. Case in point, this morning:
In anticipation of my first commute home from work yesterday, I brought my mountain bike to work, thinking it was the safest bet in the event of any new pathway detours or lingering ice or snow patches. It was to be my “scout” ride. I also attended to the weather forecast throughout the day. Although the temperatures looked fine, the winds were predicted to be gusting at 40 – 60 kph from the west, and my ride home is pretty much exactly to the west.
As it turned out, the forecast was not wrong. A 30 km ride with a few hills that usually takes me an hour and ten minutes took me a full hour and forty-three minutes.
The wind buffeted me head on and I found myself stuck in a mental rut, rotating through just three thoughts as I spun in granny’ish gears: 1. the local above-average windiness of the past couple of months has been a hot-button news topic as of late, so, no, I am not imagining it; 2. I can’t believe I brought my mountain bike – my heavy, full suspension mountain bike with big fat lugged tires that puts me in an upright perfectly wind-catching position – instead of my road bike; and 3. if I look over my shoulder and catch somebody wheel sucking while I struggle feebly against the wind I am going to violently clothesline them when they eventually pull out to pass me.
It took me a little longer than normal and I was pretty tired, but, as always, I made it home just fine and the second I stopped pedalling I returned to a pleasant and happy state, content to have tackled and completed another windy ride.
Still wrapped in several layers of sweaty cycling clothes I inhaled some turkey loaf for dinner at a pace much quicker than that which I had cycled at, and then enjoyed a nice long hot shower.
Later that night, still perched atop my post-ride high, I climbed into bed with images of a right jolly ride to work the next day dancing in my head. Roughly six and half hours later, I was roused from my sleep feeling deep hatred for my stupid alarm clock and those images of the night before were replaced with the feelings, sights and sounds of a fuzzy, tired, dark, windy, and cold morning reality. Yuck. There is NO way I wanted to bike ANYWHERE. The night before mania had been replaced by the morning after depression. But like it or not, I was Committed to the Commute.
With no way out, I got out of bed, dressed extremely warm, and pedaled off into the dark morning air. My sour mood quickly melted away. Save some frozen fingers and toes, the ride in was enjoyable and quick at just over an hour. And with a quick trip to Mountain Equipment Co-op at lunch today (hi Lincoln) to pick up some Gore-Tex boot liners and a pair of split finger cold weather gloves, it should be at least a little easier to Commit to the Commute tomorrow morning.