Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bike Commuter!

As of this morning, I have reached the ultimate level of hippie-do-gooder-earth-loving-corporate-tool: the bike commuter.

Now granted, I'll tell you right now that I didn't schlep my wheels onto the train and ride across I90. That's on the plan for spring (or perhaps sooner if some very nice day comes along when I'm feeling adventurous and don't have anything on my calendar at work). What I did was go downhill from my house (which is at an elevation of approximately 250 feet above sea level) to the Edmond's train station which is, for all practical purposes, at se level. The total trip was about a mile, which means an average of a 5% downslope. I probably pedaled about twenty times until I reached the parking lot.

But damn you all, I'm going to wear my ankle strap with pride today!

That's ankle strap as in reflective-velcro-tie-to-keep-right-pant-cuff-clean and not ankle bracelet as in under-house-arrest-Martha-Stewart.

So, from my one mile bike commute, I have the following observations:

The Edmonds train station needs a bike rack. I am currently chained to a AC power conduit attached to a phone pole. It works, but feels rather makeshift in this day of REI specialty gear for every application. I figure, however, that the "massive electrical voltage and instant death inside" sticker affixed to the power conduit (I paraphrase) effectively acts as a theft deterrent.

Someone would be well advised to make nice dress shoes with Shimano compatible cleats in the bottom. Since it was a short (downhill) ride I just rode on my little stubby pedals rather than bring a change of footwear. We'll see how that goes on the uphill.

I need a new coffee mug. The disposable I brought with me from home kept spurting out over bumps despite my best efforts to seek stability. But when you're doing 22mph down a bumpy road coming up on a six lane intersection, coffee (amazingly) takes second priority. I was afraid that my left arm was going to look like the oil stained cowling of some World War Two bomber, what with all the coffee blow back, but in the end the damage was unnoticeable. What's more is how can I claim to my bike commuter green if I'm tossing out my beverage container every day? So now I need a closable, reusable, thermal mug (Erica, should you read this, I'd like to mention the wonderful collection of thermal mugs with witty sayings on them at the new PCC).

Riding (on the aforementioned 22mph bumpy downhill and other parts) with my laptop bag over my shoulder and my insulated lunch bag clipped to it turned out to be much easier than I expected. I haven't lost all of that Davis California growing-up-on-a-bike ease that I once had. That felt good.

The morning downhill was one of the most peaceful and relaxing times I've had recently. Gulls cawing, ferry boats tooting, the sun gently reflecting off of the clouds. And hardly a car on the road.

Cutting the one mile car ride out of my day may not seem like its doing that much for the pocketbook, the carbon debt in particular or the environment in general, the dependance on foreign oil, or any of those other hot buttons. But my dad always taught me that the toughest part of a car's life, from the maintenance, efficiency, and lifespan points of view is that initial startup and first few miles. So though it only saves a little bit, it saves a little bit.

If I keep this up (and by that I mean "actually ride back up the hill") I'll start to get in shape in no time -- and then yeah, I90 will be on the menu. Then I'll be sporting the the replica Discovery Channel team jersey and taking advantage of the new company provided bike locker and shower facilities and really putting the package together. Until then, I'm happy to be doing my own little thing, making my own little difference and having some fun on the way.

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