It’s been four weeks since I halved the number of wheels I commute on, and I’m still having fun. Though the mercury has climbed a bit, I’ve hewed close to my 4 out of 5 days cycling routine, and fought back against the heat with more breathable shorts and a trunk to tote my work clothes in. I’m even considering a move to an earlier workward ride in order to avoid the increasingly warm, muggy mornings.
I’ve learned a few lessons along the way, too. Among them the ill-suitedness of sidewalks to cycling, as they are designed for moseying legs and feet, not spinning wheels. That lesson came from a lamppost at the cost of a headlight and a bruised shoulder and hip. Also, I’ve found that I am not very aerodynamic, the corollary of which is that headwinds are a bitch. That lesson came from a blustery cool front at the cost of dirty looks from two turds in a fart-canned Civic and two very, very sore legs.
And then there’s the gear: sweet, life-affirming gadgetry! Apart from my new-found love of loose-fitting, paper-thin, moisture-wicking, micro-perforated polyester blends (as Matthew Lillard told us,”Spandex: it’s a privilege, not a right.”), I’ve invested in a number of doodads to make coexisting with purportedly human-piloted steel beasties a more safe and sane experience. There’s the helmet, of course, but also a tiny, adjustable mirror-on-a-stick attached to the visor that allays any fear that a strangely silent semi is bearing down on me; the obligatory tool and tube patch kit; a tiny cylinder of carbon dioxide to top off tires that are feeling too soft, as well as reminding me that pV=nRT; a rather loud refillable air horn to help ward off automotive intrusions into my personal space; and the aforementioned ballistic nylon trunk to haul clothes, lunches and pocket chattel to and fro.
And the downside? It certainly takes longer to get to work, doubling the ten-minute commute by car, then another few minutes to change when I arrive. It’s probably a bit less safe, to be sure, but not much more so than, say, motorcycling, and thus far I’ve shed ten pounds with hopes to shed many more, pounds which would themselves have continued to be an ongoing danger to me even in the safest vehicle. What I do miss, though, is the calm moment with Christina before work commences, riffing on NPR stories, talking about her classes and our after-work plans while I drive and she breakfasts before depositing me at my office and taking the wheel. Fridays, though, we still commute together so I can be fresh and ready to go out after work. Yet another reason to look forward to Friday.