Monday, January 10

(W)CHC Day #1 - Evening Commute

The total system failure of the morning commute put me in a raw mood. I hated that I had given up, that I couldn’t come up with some workable solution to the snow in my path. It was frustrating and slightly embarassing to have my boss offer to come pick me up. I didn’t ask him to, and wouldn’t have asked. I believe in being completely self reliant at all times. There are time that we all must rely on others for help, and I'm not above asking or receiving help when necessary, but it just seemed to me that I shouldn't have needed help this morning.

I made it past the dangerous part of my ride with little difficulty and was then thwarted by less than five inches of snow. It was a learning experience for sure. I need to figure out some way to be able to keep going even when the snow piles up. I wasn't slipping or sliding on the snow. In fact, it was cold enough that the pristine dry snow provided much better traction than the compacted and/or treated snow in the roadways. But it was like swimming in butter trying to keep the bike moving in the untrodden powder.

My schedule today was supposed to be 9:00am to 5:30pm. At 4:00 I went into my boss's office and asked (in a jocular manner):

"You got me here, are you taking me home too?"

He replied: "I was gonna come ask if you wanted a ride home."

"Well," I continued,"It's ten degrees and the sun just went down. Either you're taking me or I'm leaving now."

I was not wussing out. I was carpooling. He ended up driving me home, and given the circumstances I welcomed the ride.

Today was a disaster in planning on my part. I didn't give up on the challenge, it's just that the conditions overwhelmed my ability to do damage control. I had no backup plan in case the bike path had not been plowed, I didn't leave early enough, and I gave up too easy.

I did scout out the bike paths I could see on the ride home. They look pretty good now. So tomorrow we go at it again, cold temps or no, darkness or no, homicidal traffic on Ridge Road or no...well, to be fair, I won't be on Ridge Road tomorrow, so it doesn't matter what those fools do.

Some observations at the end of the day:

Carpooling is okay. If someone is already driving the same way you're headed it's okay to ride along. You are not creating an adverse impact. You're not selling out. It's something everyone is going to have to do at some point. If you're car-free and walk or ride a bike, if you do it long enough, you're going to need to catch a ride with someone. Heck! Even if you drive a car your whole life chances are you're going to run out of gas or break down at least once.

There are going to be days that you just can't do it, man! This morning I dressed perfectly. I was stoked to ride. The surface conditions just weren't conducive to riding a bike. The streets were unsafe because cars were skating around everywhere and the bike paths were too deep with snow. If I had the luxury if waiting around until a quad-runner with a blade whizzed past I could have ridden in. But I had no idea how long it was going to be before the CCT was rideable.

I ended up storing my bike in my cube. It thawed partially in Mike's SUV and by then I was just to thinking straight. Before i knew it I had the bike in my cube, dripping into the mud-colored carpet. To quote my boss: "Who cares?"

Limiting myself to a backpack today caused me to think hard about what I was actually taking. I ended up leaving some things like wallet (still had ID) and checkbook, but I took two pairs of gloves, a shell and my cable lock. I could get by without panniers (and I'm not counting today because I only rode two miles) but they make life so much easier.

It was nice showering at home and then just walking in to work without worrying about having to go down to the locker room and get ready. I was ready when I got there. We'll see how I do tomorrow after riding the entire 10+ miles (adverse weather route).

I didn't start out how I had wanted, but I think I did learn a lot today. I wonder how the whole affair would have played out if it had just been a normal commute day and not Day #1 of the Commuter Hardship Challenge?

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