Ok, I thought I should list the rules for my (Winter) Commuter Hardship Challenge this coming week. The time frame is going to be Monday the 10th to Friday the 14th.
Here they are:
1) I will not use the locker rooms and showers at work.
2) I will not use the bike racks or store my bike in my cubicle.
3) I will not wear any cycling specific clothing. The only cycling specific gear allowed will be the bike and helmet (bike lights, fenders, etc will be allowed)
4) At least three commutes I will ride less than 25% of my usual route(s) between home and work. So I will ride three new routes that makes sense.
5) At least two days I will not use my rack and panniers.
6) I will not take any clothing or supplies to work by car.
That's basically it. I'll simulate the conditions for someone who is faced with a less than ideal commuting situation, and I'll report daily on my progress and observations. What will make this challenge interesting is that Monday and Tuesday promise to be very wintry. The lows will be below zero and the highs will just barely be double digits and we're supposed to get at least as much snow as we had last week.
Again, I'm doing this because I feel as if my perception on commuting in general and winter commuting specifically are somewhat skewed because I have the ideal situation with a locker room and showers, bike racks and also the ability to store my bike in my immediate work area. On top of all that I have access to a refrigerator, sink and microwave. It's hard for me to relate to many of the obstacles associated with bicycle commuting for those who do not have the ideal situation.
The kids and I did an exploratory route north to try and work out a bike commute for Mandy and Boone to get to school. Mandy went up around 1pm to help out with an upcoming play so we hitched up the trailer and struck out north through darkest suburbia.
We described a good route, but I don't know how feasible it would be for Mandy with Boone either on his bike or on the back of a longtail (once we get her one). The distance was the same as my commute (9.2 miles) but with 450 less feet in elevation gain. But the route is a bit more convoluted, and I'm not sure the route we rode today is the best or most expedient route they could possibly ride. Its going to take a few more scouting rides I think (darn!).
It took us and hour and a half, but Boone rode a good portion of the route on his single speed 20" bike and for the remainder of the route I was pulling him and Lil' in the trailer. It was a good ride though. Glad we got out before the weather gets bad.