Friday, October 22

Bicycle Dreaming

I used to fantasize about being able to commute by bike to work. I used to fantasize about being able to ride my bike to go places I wanted to go. I should be very, very thankful that I've been able to locate myself in a place that allows me to fulfill those long held fantasies.

When I was still working on my undergrad degree at Eastern Kentucky University I drove first an hour from home in Stanton to work at UPS in Lexington. After finishing up at UPS some days I would drive across town to work at a second job and then an hour back home that evening. Other days I would drive 30 miles from Lexington to Richmond to class after leaving UPS. Then after class I would drive the last hour home from Richmond. There were days I spent almost three hours in the car.

When I worked on campus for Facilities I took advantage of the situation and rode a borrowed bike around campus in pursuit of my duties. It was my first taste of cycling for utility in a long, long time.

When we moved to the Denver Metro area I was giddy to be able to ride my bike from the room I was renting at the time to work. I was fortunate that my place of employment is bike-friendly, right down to having a locker room with showers. There were days I let weather dissuade me from riding, but I was finally able to fulfill those fantasies. It was nice.

I've evolved as a bicycle commuter. I used to drive at least one day a week to bring clothes, food and other incidentals to work. Now I haul everything (a day's worth at a time) in a pannier. I used to drive more than ride because of weather, distance and lack of motivation.

Last year I (we) made the commitment to drop one of our two family cars and completely rely on my bike for my primary mode of transportation. So far it has worked very well. In the last six months I've basically ridden five days a week and very, very seldom succumbed to the temptation to drive or get a ride from my wife.

Even when I was sick last week I rode to work.

I hope I never forget how much I dreaded my long car commutes in Kentucky. I hope I always remember how much I ached to be able to get out of the car and ride my bike, just to ride, not even to commute, but just to have the time to be out of the #$%& car.

I've learned to be pretty self-sufficient with my cycling, repairing, maintaining, and diagnosing my problems. Occasionally I need some help from the local bike shop, but I have saved a lot of money by giving it a go myself.

And when I have to spend money on my bike I think of all the tanks of gas I've saved by riding, all the wear-and-tear miles and expenses I've avoided on a car by pedaling to my little heart's content (well, not quite). The trade-off has been well worth it so far.

I'm truly thankful I have the opportunity. I felt oppressed by car culture in Kentucky where there was no way possible for me to be a bicycle anything, much less commuter. I was just a dreamer.

Now I'm living the life.

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