Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bike to Work Month - Day 18 - Useless Rain Gear

Just yesterday I became the proud new owner of cycling specific, Gore Tex rain gear.  No expense was spared.

Today as I rode to work it rained and I got wet.

This blog is not only inspiring and entertaining, it is also educational.  Occasionally I like to impart a tidbit  of useful commuting information.  So here you go - If you leave your top of the line rain gear at home, it will not keep you dry while riding your bike in the rain.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bike to Work Month - Day 17 - Coffee Break

This morning I decided to skip the gym.  I had a little extra time on my hands.

So, I poured a thermos full of coffee...

 Threw it in my pannier...

Rode down to the river and poured me a cup...

Kicked back and watched the Deadrises at work...

The life of a cycling commuter - it don't get no better!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bike to Work Month - Day 16 - Nothing Of Note

Each commuting day this month I've tried to cover the gamut of things I see and experience while riding to and from work. Nothing spectacular or earth shattering. Just simple things. However, I don't want to leave you readers thinking that each day you ride to work will be a life changing experience. Most days are not noteworthy, they are simply getting back and forth to work.

Today was one of those days. I didn't see anyone. I didn't see anything, except the squirrel I almost ran over. It was foggy and there was no spectacular scenery. It was hot and humid.

I just mechanically climb on the bike and pedal and sweat and breathe.  Not thinking.  Not feeling.  Just riding.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bike to Work Month - Day 15 - Looking Left and Right

While the title is certainly something you want to do continually to keep an eye on traffic, that's not what I'm referring to in today's post.

As I rode to work this morning I glanced to my right, the West and was struck by a view of ominous storm clouds just beyond the river.

I glanced to my left, the East and my view was greeted by a beautiful sunrise against clear skies.

The two views were a dichotomy of sorts. The direction of my gaze conjured within me two totally different and opposing perspectives, one of gloom and one of hope. I can't control the weather, but upon which I rest my eyes is a choice totally mine.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bike To Work Month - Day 14 - Bike to Work Day

Today the rest of the country celebrates what I do everyday, bike to work.
I hope that someone out there who opted to give it a go for the day will...

...experience the joy that I experience each and every day. that 13 mph is plenty fast enough and to go much faster is a waste of life.

...realize that the world is just a short bike ride away.

...fall as in love with it as I have.

Maybe that lucky person will decide to take biking to work beyond an annual event and make it a lifestyle.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bike to Work Month - Day 13 - A Pathetic Bike Path

There is about a mile stretch of my commuting route home where I ride on the sidewalk. While it is legal for me to do so, I hate it because it crosses a lot of side streets where I have to slow down to cross. Furthermore, I have to regularly navigate around pedestrians, most of whom are walking dogs on those leashes that expand in and out. When I come upon these folks, quite a few give me ugly looks for being on the sidewalk. If only they knew that I hate it as much as them and that I ride on the sidewalk out of necessity, not convenience.

For you see there was a time that I rode on the shoulder of the adjacent road. Then people started parallel parking on that shoulder which forced me to ride out in one of the three lanes of rush hour traffic. After an untold number of close calls, honking of horns, cursing, gnashing of teeth and shaking of fist, I could take it no longer. I opted for the lesser of the evils - the sidewalk.

Recently though, the city reworked the sewer system on this road and in so doing shifted the lanes to eliminate the shoulder on the right side of the road, thus creating this...

Now I've never heard of a bike lane on the left hand side of the road. I've never heard of painting diagonal yellow lines on a bike path. Then I remembered the city in which I live and realized that our city designers and engineers can't even spell "bike path", much less conceive of creating one. But those yellow lines also mean no parking. So - I have abandoned the sidewalk and now claim this yellow hatched, left hand side of the road as my bike path.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bike To Work Month - Day 12 - Blogging Central Open for the Season

As I rode home today I had some time to kill, so I stopped at 7-Eleven and picked up a six pack of my favorite beverage...

Then headed to my favorite picnic table in the woods for some unwind time...

I haven't sat in this spot since last fall. It felt just like home. I'm looking forward to a Summer long tradition - a sabbatical of sorts - where I detour to this secluded spot - commune with nature - sit alone with my thoughts - drink cold beer - and share with you my faithful readers what's rattling around in my head and heart.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bike to Work Month - Day 11 - Tricky Weather

So far this week it's been all about the weather. Yesterday morning the radar showed the entire area blanketed in light rain. I donned rain gear and no rain fell, so I took off the jacket and finished the ride in my rain pants.

This morning, the radar showed very widely scattered showers. I skipped the rain gear and walked outside to pouring rain. I waited 5 minutes for it to let up and rode off. Just half a mile from the house the roads were completely dry.

This afternoon the radar showed some scattered, really ugly storm cells. I put on my helmet and walked out the office. On the way to my bike, I looked north and the sky was ominously dark, I looked west and the skies were equally ominous. Then a clap of thunder shook me to my core and I turned around and walked back to the office.

I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Bike to Work Month - Day 10 - A Flat

As I rode by she was just coming round the quarter panel of her SUV.  She obviously had places to be and things to do - take the kids to school - get to work...  Then she looked down and to her right promptly followed by a raising of her hands,  lifting of her head and rolling of her eyes.  She would be going no where soon, for the rear wheel on the driver's side was flat.

I was tempted to suggest that she ride a bike, but obtuse as I am, even I could tell that this was neither the time nor place to counsel her on alternate modes of transportation.  I smiled, but not until I was sure she couldn't see me, and rode on.  I was secure in the knowledge that I had air in my tires and even in the unfortunate event that I flatted - I possessed the tools, spare parts and know how to make the necessary repairs and continue on my way in as little as 15 minutes.

Simple and self sufficient - that's what I like - that's why I commute by bike.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bike to Work Month - Day 9 - Stuck in Traffic (NOT)

As I was riding home through the quiet neighborhoods that make up my daily commute, I was re-riding in mind the commute of the day before. I was trying to make my way to Fort Monroe when I snapped the following photo as my route paralleled I-64.

I was the only bike on the bike path while the interstate was a parking lot jammed full of cars. There I was enjoying the sunshine and fresh air while countless drivers sat and waited. Surely each of those drivers had a place to be and I doubt it was sitting idle on the interstate. I wonder how many were tense and frustrated? I wonder how many sat numb and resigned to their fate? I wonder if it dawned on any of them that they had an alternative, a two wheeled alternative? An alternative that improved their health, rejuvenated their state of mind, saved them money, was friendly to the environment, relaxing, fun and simple. Bikes may not be able to save the world - but they can make a heck of a dent in improving it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bike to Work Month - Day 8 - After Work Fish Fry

After work today, I attended a fish fry for a society that I'm a member of. So when I climbed on my bike, I pointed it east towards Fort Monroe. I wasn't sure exactly what route I'd take, what to expect from the traffic, nor how long it would take. It turns out that the weather was perfect, the wind was to my back and sticking with the back streets the traffic was minimal.

I first made my way to Chesapeake Blvd. to ride along the water.

As I rode, I could see my destination in the distance and watched as it grew nearer.

I traveled through downtown Hampton and then found a small bike path that took me to Hampton University. I rode through the university and the adjacent medical complex, all the while paralleling the interstate.

Crossing over the interstate, I once again detoured into the neighborhoods and rode through Phoebus and after an hour of riding at a very slow, relaxed pace, I found myself but on small bridge from my destination.

 I pushed on and in a matter of minutes stood outside the Chamberlin Hotel which I had been keeping an eye on for most of my commute.

I rode even slower through historic Fort Monroe to my final destination...

The ride - in a word - BEAUTIFUL!!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bike to Work Month - Day 7 - Commuting by Truck Averted

I poured my first cup of coffee this morning, clicked on the "Weather Channel" app and noticed that there was an 80% chance of rain -starting at around 7 AM and throughout the day and evening. I decided to drive the truck to work. As an added benefit and justification for taking the easy and dry road, I also recalled that I needed to get home quick this afternoon to take my wife out to dinner. I took another sip of coffee and then it dawned on me - May is Bike to Work Month - I committed to riding and blogging everyday - dang me and my commitments - why can't I just be-bop through life without a care in the world - why do I have to go and make such a commitment to the entire blogosphere?

Oh well, what's done is done. I put on my riding shoes and helmet and climb on my bike. I stopped at the gym to work out and when I came back out to my bike around 7 AM to continue my commute, there was a light drizzle dangling in the air. As I paralleled the James River I looked across at the grey, threatening clouds and hoped the rain would hold off.

I made it to work still dry and with my commitment intact.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bike to Work Month - Day 6 - An Alternate Route

We are all creatures of habit. I have ridden on River Road hundreds upon hundreds of times over the last 20 years. I have ridden it so often that my bike has memorized every bump. I believe I could take my hands off the handlebars and my bike would navigate with ease. I choose to keep my hands on the handlebars, not for fear of crashing, but for fear of how unsettling it would be if my bike actually took control.

Of late, the city has been replacing the sewer system one house at a time and the impact upon River Road has grown with each passing day. Having now reached a point where the destruction spans 4 or 5 blocks and makes riding downright unbearable.

I am now forced to alter my route. The detour runs parallel with river road and is scarcely one block to the east, but I still feel like a stranger in a foreign land.

I long for the day when River Road will be restored to its rightful place and my commuting world can be set right once again.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bike to Work Month - Day 5 - For Want of a Pant Clip

The minutes were clicking away, I searched frantically for them. I rummaged through the garage. I emptied the contents of my bike bag. It was all in vain. They were no where to be found.

I cried out, "For want of pant clips my commute is lost!"

In their absence, I resorted to the only thing that prevented the unspeakable, driving my truck to work, I reached down and rolled up my pants leg.

I had to set aside the clean cut look of pant clips...

I shudder to think the impact that something so small (pun intended) had on my sex appeal.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bike to Work Month - Day 4 - My Morning Routine

4:30 AM - I'm out of bed.

4:32 AM - making Coffee

4:34 AM - let the dog out

4:35 AM - go to bathroom

4:45 AM - getting dressed.

4:50 AM - let the dog back in.

4:53 AM - kick back in recliner with iPad and Coffee. Blog, read, surf the net, pray, listen to music, check e-mail. This is my time. No noise. No distraction. I protect it religiously.

5:55 AM - replace battery in riding lawn mower (normally I would be climbing on my bike and heading for the gym, but the grass needs cutting and to do that the lawn mower needs starting. I hate it when life gets in the way of what I really want to do).

6:25 AM - climb on bike and take short route to work (normally if I were leaving at this time of day I would be taking the longer route, but I played golf yesterday and bummed a ride home with a buddy and like an idiot left my riding shoes at work. This is shaping up to be one heck of a day.)

6:55 AM - I arrive and work and lock up my bike.

7:00 AM - I walk across the street to Ernie's (small restaurant) and have a big breakfast of eggs, sausage, potatoes and toast (normally I would walk to my office and eat yogurt and granola, but I'm a bit frustrated with my morning so far, so I skip the stupid yogurt and granola.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bike to Work Month - Day 3 - Caught Between Winter & Summer

Riding in April and early May in VA can be a crap shoot. I'll wake up one morning and the weather is absolutely beautiful with clear skies, mild temperatures and a gentle breeze - its the kind of morning when no matter how slow or far I ride, I still get there way too soon. I wake up another morning and it's hot and humid - it's the kind of morning when I get to work soaked in sweat. 

This morning I was expecting warm temperatures and sunny skies. I was playing golf that afternoon and so, as tradition would have it, I donned my pink, Nike, golf shirt. I was only a few pedal strokes down the street when I realized that I overestimated the temperature (that's what I get for believing the forecast in Eastern VA) and found myself a bit underdressed. I was cold, but once I start pedaling away, I generally have a rule of not turning back. My shirt which is perfect for letting air in and sweat out, performed to perfection. It let lots of cool air in to rotate freely around my goose bump covered skin. It was the kind of morning when no matter how fast or short the distance I ride, I still don't get there soon enough.


Oh well - at least I still rode and that's always a good thing.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bike to Work Month - Day 2 - A Random Epiphany

I've mentioned before how when riding back and forth to work, I have lots of time to think. That is simultaneously a good thing, but also, considering my mind, can be scary as well.

A case in point, there's one particular house I pass each day in which lives a middle aged couple. They don't have any children. They don't have a dog or cat or goldfish (at least they don't take the gold fish outside). What they do have are two or three of the biggest, hairiest, ugliest rabbits I've ever seen. Now, I've known folks that raise rabbits, but they have been entirely confined to a little wire cage. This couple actually takes their rabbits outside everyday and let's them rummage around the yard getting exercise, fresh air and vitamin D. Sometimes they bring them out in a little cage. Other times they construct a small portable fence and let the wander around this makeshift corral. Often times though they let them wander around the yard freely.

Most days that I pass, this couple are on their hands and knees trying to coax these small minded mammals out of some bush that they've burrowed themselves into. Every time I see this couple, I actually feel sorry for them. They have pets that don't bark, don't fetch, aren't squat for home security, don't come when they're and have very little to no personality. This couple's lives are relegated to scooping up little round turds, crawling around on their hands and knees trying to keep their critters out of the shrubs while all the time scanning the skies to assure a random hawk won't swoop down and carry away their loved ones.

Just today as I rode past their house, after stopping at the tavern for a pint or two, I once again witnessed this couples poor plight in life and was struck by an epiphany. I was one pint shy of crying aloud, but it still screamed in my head - "eat the dadgum rabbits and be free!"



Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bike to Work Month - Day 1 - Good Boy

I haven't blogged in a while. Been busy - distracted - kinda gotten out of the habit. I'm not ready to give it up. I've been looking for a way to get back into the groove. May is Bike to Work Month. I thought I would try to jump start my blogging again by attempting to Blog for each day I will commute to work by bike. Considering the fact that I am also committed to riding to work everyday, that means that I will blog each and every working day during the month of May.

Today as I rode the foot bridge across the drainage ditch from Huntington Park, I climbed onto the adjoining neighborhood street and two BIG German Shepherds came charging across their front yard in my direction with barks and growls that didn't exactly instill a warm and fuzzy feeling. I didn't feel particularly threatened by their advance because they were in a fenced in yard. Were this incident to end here it would not be particularly blogworthy. What troubled me for the rest of my commute was the response of the dogs' owner. As the dogs barked ominously and displayed obvious signs of aggression, the lady in the front yard with them kept praising their antics repeatedly with "good boys - good boys - good boys!!! ".

Other than giving her a look that clearly relayed that I thought her a less than intelligent female dog, I held my tongue. Shaking my head exasperatingly, I rode on. I pondered this event for the rest of the ride. Not choosing to assume the worst in my fellow human race, I refuse to believe that she was encouraging their aggressive behavior directed at an innocent cyclist. Instead I choose to rationalize that what she was praising was their self control in not jumping the measly 3 foot high fence that separated them from their arch enemy - a cyclist.