Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bike to Work Week

Bike to Work Week is coming up rapidly. It is May 16 - 20 this year and here is the schedule:

2010 Bike To Work Week Schedule
  • May 16 – Education Fair at River Park Square. Bike corral on Main Avenue. Commute Challenge begins.
  • May 17 – Pancake Breakfast in Riverfront Park, 7-9am; Music by Liz Rognes. Commuters attending the Kickoff Event will get to RIDE THE EDGE with the freshest and newest coffee from Spokane's own Roast House coffee.
  • May 19 – Walk & Roll to School Day: participating Spokane Public Schools
  • Various days that week – Energizer Stations: locations countywide TBD will be announced on the Web site
  • May 21 – Wrap-up Party at Steam Plant Grill, 4:30-6:30pm. Registered participants only--must RSVP.
  • June 12 – Four-week Commute Challenge ends. Make sure you've logged your biking!
  • June 30 (date/location still being confirmed) – Conclusion of four-week Commute Challenge; picnic and results announced.
For more information, and TO REGISTER, go to the website:

Because of the attention on it and because the weather is ever so slowly turning nicer, I have been wanting to get riding to work again. I have to admit that I did very little bike commuting last year. I have a whole slew of excuses, and while it might amuse me to elaborate on them, I will just say that this year I am ready to ride to work a lot more. Today my wife and sons all had early commitments and we all gone before 7 am. I thought it would be the perfect morning to get my gear ready and ride to work for the first time this year. Let's just say that there is a reason that the experts suggest a dry run on a non-work day.

Nonetheless, I persevered and was finally ready to leave my house about 15 minutes after I normally get to work. Oh well, thankfully my position as a highly paid blogger gives me some flexibility in my schedule.

The ride was uneventful in the grander sense, but it was very eventful in the look-at-the-world-around-you way. I ride some of the same roads that most of my bike riding covers, but today I was on a much heavier bike with two loaded panniers, containing a briefcase full of things that I mostly would have left at the office if I had thought about riding my bike to work, and my clothes. The bike I was riding is virtually a museum-piece mountain bike that tips the scales about 40 lbs before loading the bags. It is reasonable to say that I rode slower today than I did on Sunday heading up to join the group ride. And that is one of the things that is fun about the riding my bike to work.

The trip from my back door to standing in my office was exactly 25 minutes. When I drive, this same trip is closer to 15 minutes. If I rode my racing bike and beat cheeks, it would be in the 18-20 minute range, so the time penalty is minimal. The nice thing about it is the slower pace enables me to look around and see much more than when I take the same route on a faster vehicle, whether motored or not. I ride my motorcycle to work lots of days so I am used to being exposed to the weather, but dropping my speed that much completely changes the experience.

I picked a cool, but dry, day to start my bike commuting, but once I get in the swing of things, it is easier to expand the idea of day that works for cycling. I am not a hard-core, every day commuter, but there are years when I ride enough to feel like I can legitimately stake a claim to the title and today was a reminder of why.

One equipment note. I have commuted to work on race bikes with a messenger bag or a backpack on my back; I have commuted on my mountain bike the same way; I have modified a steel frame bike to include cyclocross tires, fenders and lights for early/late season rides that works great for commuting; and today I took my 20 year old mountain bike on which I had added a rack and panniers. The point? If you have two wheels, you can make it work. Don't let the "right" equipment or a dedicated ride hold you back from slinging a leg over the frame and getting yourself to work.

Lastly, the best thing about riding to work? For me, it is riding home. It causes me to be more mindful of when I need to leave work and I try to take a longer, harder loop home. Getting home with a bit of a cycling work-out already done is the best way to sit down to dinner. I'm looking forward to it already.
Rider Three

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