This morning as I was getting ready for work at work I reflected back on this past week. I can now proudly wear the title of "Winter Bike Commuter." It's been an interesting week, watching the road conditions evolve and gaining more and more experience pedaling over slick surfaces.
But even as I checked off that new experience I realized there are other aspects of commuting in general and more specifically winter commuting where I am still inexperienced. One aspect in particular is the conundrum of finding a place to get ready before work, storing the bike and dealing with being a commuter in a less than commuter-friendly environment where there is no convenient shower and no good place to store a bike.
Since I've been commuting regularly (past three years) I've worked in the same place. I was very fortunate to be employed in a place where there's a locker room with showers in the same building where I work, bike racks out front and generally bicycle friendly non-cyclist coworkers. My immediate supervisor(s) supports my habit and allows my bike and sweaty gear to be strewn about my cube every day. My coworkers don’t seem to have a problem with tripping over my things when they come to talk to me either.
I make a concerted effort to minimize my impact on the workplace. I take the service elevator with my bike. I leave dripping wet things in the locker room and I try to keep my bike out of the way as much as possible. For the most part you can't tell I park a bike in my cube when its not there.
However, if I want an honorary PhD in Bicycle Commuting in a few years I need to shore up my base knowledge. And I don’t mean chink up my bibliography. I need some more first hand experience in the trials of being a bike commuter. I need a wardrobe and hygiene challenge. In short...I've had it too easy.
My plan is that all next week I will not utilize the locker room or showers at work. I'll find some way to make myself presentable for work without using the facilities I typically take for granted.
My wife pointed out to me recently that women have it more difficult in the bicycle commuting environment. Hair and makeup paraphernalia in tow, generally being presentable and hauling all the requisite gear on a bike is difficult. I concur.
Unfortunately for all of you, I will not be experiencing the trials of being a woman and commuting by bicycle. It just ain't happenin'. But I will try to keep in mind the accoutrements I would need if I were a woman in the same situation as I go through next week.
We'll see how it goes. I'll keep you abreast of my progress without boring you to death and maybe do a write up at the end of the week to summarize my observations. Anyone else up for the challenge?
Speaking of future plans, I came up with a good potential ride yesterday (my internal geographer is always busy). Sometime, as a solo or Mandy-and-I or maybe even a family ride in a few years I want to ride from home to Colorado Springs utilizing the New Santa Fe Trail as much as possible and then return north via Rampart Range Road. The loop I mapped is 207 miles and I figure 3-4 days. It'll be awesome!