Category Archives: Personal stuff

I could just get a ride with someone who’s driving, but I don’t… I *like* commuting by bike!

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Each May we have Bike To Work Day. That’s weird. A Bike To Work “Day.” As if it needs a special day because otherwise we’ll take it for granted, because otherwise the benefits of riding to work don’t matter? Like we wouldn’t care about our Moms if there wasn’t a “Mother’s” day?

Confession. I wasn’t always a bike commuter. But today, even if a “ride” is available, I’d rather ride. Why?

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Is this the alternative to cycling to work? Not so far-fetched when you think about Google self-driving cars. What’s scary is that many think a push-button existence is part of their view of an ideal world.

Because when I ride to work, I arrive feeling like I’ve already started to engage the world. Riding city streets is “active” when you’re on a bike, not just because you’re pedaling and working your heart & muscles, but most-important, you’re working your brain. You’re scanning the street ahead to make sure the roadway’s safe; you’re keeping an eye out for cars entering from the side, you’re watching the stop lights before you get to them, trying to time your arrival so it will be green when you get to it.

If you’re lucky, you experience the unmistakable smell of bacon on the way in, and sometimes coffee. Easier to rationalize a stop for coffee (and even donuts) when you’re riding. No problem finding parking spaces either!

Even the ritual of removing your helmet and dealing with its effect on whatever hair is left on a 59-year-old head is strangely positive (maybe because there’s still something left to comb). All sorts of little details that let you know you’re alive, you’re on a journey even, and work is just one stop on that journey. Compare that to being entombed in a car, windows rolled up because you don’t want anything out of your control, radio on, it could be 40 degrees outside or 85 and it wouldn’t matter because you’ve got climate control, one more aspect of technology to insulate you from the world outside.

We were given muscles to work. Noses to smell. Eyes to see. Ears to hear. “Sensors” on our hands, feet & tail end to feel with. Cycling uses all of them! And when you stop for coffee (and/or donuts), you can engage your sense of taste as well. We were designed to experience, to create, to struggle even. If you don’t like that, take it up with the two who got us thrown out of the garden. And if you’re thinking about some future state of being, where your body is no longer flesh & blood & bone but rather a connection between your mind and “the grid”, just think about where you’ll be next time your Comcast ‘net connection goes down, or some virus kills your computer.

There’s something to be said for the reliability of a person riding a bike. You push down on the pedal, and it goes. You lean and the bike turns. You apply the brakes and it slows down. It never runs out of gas. You can buy a pretty fancy bike for the cost of a transmission repair (this I know personally) (twice). You don’t have to drive around downtown Palo Alto 20 minutes looking for a parking space. But most of all, you’re part of the experience. You’re not deliberately walled-off from the world. Even your vulnerability reminds you how great it feels to be alive. Look at the faces on the motorists; many appear to be deal already.

All this to explain why I rode to work today, even though Becky was driving anyway.  –Mike–

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A meandering missive on Bike To Work Day

"Downtown Improvement Project" off West Old LaHonda
“Downtown Improvement Project” off West Old LaHonda
The final climb to Skyline on West Old LaHonda is *so* much harder than it looks!
The final climb to Skyline on West Old LaHonda is *so* much harder than it looks!

Every day should be like today. It’s going to rain, that’s a given, but it waits until you finish your morning ride, and your ride to work, before it starts. And then it ends in time for the roads to dry out for your ride home! Is that perfect or what?

It was even a bit warmer this morning; no lower than 41 degrees! Amazing what just a 5 degree difference can make. Not many of us out there to enjoy it though; myself, Kevin and JR. Ah, right, one more person, Tom joined us for the first time in quite a while. Just to the top of Kings (and in enough of a rush to get to work that he had to head right back down Kings, passing JR & I as we were still on the way up).

"Downtown Improvement Project" off West Old LaHonda

Kevin actually pulled for a bit descending 84 west, something rarely seen. West Old LaHonda was a pretty as every single one of the other 663 times Strava says I’ve ridden it since sometime in 2008. That’s actually a pretty amazing thing… 663 times on that segment of road. 663 times I’ve looked forward to “that view.” 663 times I’ve passed that outhouse-like building on the left-hand side of the road with the “Downtown Improvement Project” sign. That comes out to… what do you know, just over 100 times/year, which means I’ve ridden past it twice a week (since the beginning of time as we know it, which goes back to March 23rd, 2008.

Yet another interesting thing to note. Pre-Strava vs Post-Strava. Do the couple hundred thousand miles I rode prior to March 23rd, 2008, count? I’m guessing not. My earliest almost-daily diary entries go back maybe 10 years earlier than that, so maybe I could stretch credibility as far as 1998. I would have been 42 then which, coincidentally, it the answer to Life, The Universe, & Everything. Backing that up is the absolute fact that riding at 42 degrees is comfortable while 41 (and below) is not.

Getting back to the present, Kevin and I celebrated Bike To Work Day by stopping for both donuts and coffee on our ride in to work, arriving a good two hours ahead of the rain. And we’ll be riding home in an hour or so, again, without rain. And without guilt too, since it did rain in the middle of the day.

Random oddness:  A page of quotes reminding me that the movie Buckaroo Bonzai is so much better than most people give credit for.  I’ve always liked that movie, but have had a tough time understanding why. Looking at those quotes, it’s easy to find the answer.

“Nothing is ever what it seems but everything is exactly what it is.”

This is the good life. Now we just have to find some employees so Kevin and I can head to France in a couple of months! I will probably not be the easiest person to get along with come mid-July if I’m climbing Kings instead of Alp D’Huez. :-)

 

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