Friday, July 02, 2010

Touch of Reality - Bike Commuting

I rode my bike to work this last Wednesday. I rode it home too, that was the hard part.

You see, when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup I got kind of in the mood to skate. I had also just started an "exercise program" called 10K-A-Day that challenges you to walk at least 10,000 steps a day. I hate running so I figured in-line skating would be a good way to get my walking type exercise. Then as I was researching that I got the itch that I've had nagging me for over 10 years to get a new bike.

I discovered that I'm only (ha, only) 9 miles from work, AND there is a Bike Trail most of the way. Perfect. My commute would only go from 25 minutes to 47 minutes.

I had ridden to work before, back in the mid 90s when I worked for Motorola. Back then I was only 3 miles from work and it was actually faster to ride because I didn't have to find a parking spot.

There were two real problems with my commuting now: there is no shower at work (I sweat like a pig doing ANY activity); and my bike.

I bought my bike in 1990 in Georgia before I got married. I paid $99.99 back then. There are actually parts falling off of it now. It's a department store bike so no bike shop will touch it, to fix or upgrade. There is no rack, there are no lights.

I hemmed and hawed and pined over a new bike. I took my bike to work and tried the route from work out 15 minutes and back. It's a good route, but the bike didn't like it too much.

Finally, I decided that I needed to just do it. If my bike fell apart that would be all the more reason to get a new bike. I packed my stuff in a backpack bought some lights and set off. The ride in was pretty good, but on the way home the problems really made themselves known.

The rear tire seemed to get flatter and flatter. The bike started making even more noise than it usually did. I mean, not the usual rattle of the chain, which can never seem to find the gear, I mean a sort of moaning, groaning, struggling sound. The kind of sound that a dying animal would make if it were surrounded by its friends and family, but didn't want to worry them, but also couldn't keep all the pain in; that kind of sound.

It felt like the whole trip was up hill, and it took a good hour to get home, while the trip to work only took 47 minutes (as advertized on my GPS).

At this point I think Ole Blue has had it with commuting. There is a very good chance that it could collapse on the next trip, and by collapse I mean I wouldn't be surprised if the frame itself folded.

So now I'm wondering if I'll get another chance. We need a new computer, we have to pay off our home improvements, we have to pay for a bumper we scratched in a parking lot…

I need a beefy hybrid because of the roughness of the streets and the bike path, but I don't need (or want) a full on mountain bike. A new bike seems a long way off. I've looked into hand me downs, eBay, and Craig's List. They just aren't available now.

It was a good idea though. The environment, my health, traffic all would have improved. It was a good idea.

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