My wife scoffed Thursday night when I said I was going to leave 30 minutes earlier than usual the next morning. I would show her.
In these days of 8-hours-plus workdays sitting in a chair, rising gas prices, and lack of public transportation, riding a bicycle into work started sounding sensible. I typed in our address and that of my work and clicked Google Maps’ bicycle icon.
10.9 miles. 1 hour and 6 minutes.
Ouch. I wasn’t so worried about getting home a little more than 30 minutes later than usual; some folks spend more time than that at the gym. On the other hand, leaving home that much earlier in the morning wasn’t very attractive to me, and on days when the low dips to a balmy 80 degrees, the ride would not leave me in very good working condition. Not to mention the ride home when it’s still 100-plus with the Texas sun beating down on my fair skin.
Another hindrance was my aversion to riding alongside cars — in places screaming past at 55 mph and higher — on roads that are not built with the cyclist in mind. It wouldn’t take much of a driver distraction from a ringing mobile phone or a text message to ensure I never rode again.
On closer inspection of the map, I noticed that most of the last half of the ride was far from cars and their deadly drifting. Specifically, it was on a paved path that meandered 3.5 miles to a spot that left me with only about a mile to ride on sidewalk and a very lightly traveled street behind the office park. On the way home from work one day I found that the trail-head was next to an over-sized cul-de-sac in a quiet suburban neighborhood.
Thursday night, as the rain’s white noise roared outside, I attached my neglected, ’90′s-era bike rack to my car in hopes that it would hold. There was way too much plastic in it to give me much confidence back when it was brand new, but I had a plan and I would not be moved. I summoned what little strength my tech-supporty arms could muster and heaved my Huffy up onto the rack, then secured it using the excess lengths of strap. I might have even thrown in a knot that I recently re-learned after that week’s Cub Scout meeting.
Did I mention that the tires and the tubes were the same ones that came with the bike when my wife bought it in 1993? Same goes for the brakes, the chain, and everything else. Yet, there I was, ready to rely on it for work transportation.
If only I could blame my misfortune on the bike.
(to be continued)