Tuesday, June 5

The Road Into Biketopia

I was thinking this morning that it is easy to take my commutes for granted.

During my undergraduate sentence, when I was commuting by car 89 miles a day three days a week and 114 the other two, I vowed that once I could choose, I would never again let myself get into that arrangement.

Now, not only is my commute less than 20 miles daily, I bike it every day.

There are days I'm bored with the same old scenery, and that's why I vary my commute more so than for traffic considerations. But even when I'm bored, it beats the same commute, confined in traffic behind the wheel of the car.

I don't really hate (most) cars, despite what my son thinks. Okay, I do hate Hummers, Audis, Lexi and Mercedes as a general rule. I can tolerate Beamers. I hate the whole Ford vs Chevy vs Dodge diatribe, but I like me some Mustangs, with older Camaroes a close second.

However, when I get behind the wheel (or handlebars for that matter) I want to GO. I don't want to sit idle and impotent while trying to reach my destination. I guess that's one reason the bike appeals to me- it is hardly slowed by the obstacles that bring automobiles to a screeching halt. I can continue forward motion unimpeded.

Ages ago I expounded on the virtues of the bicycle saying that, as a cyclist, I could behave as a car when convenient or as a pedestrian when convenient.

I've come a long way, ideologically speaking, since those days. But, when convenient, I still switch mobility roles.

The difference now is that I use much greater discretion when I choose to ride in pedestrian spaces and I generally stick to automobile spaces as much as possible.

Having said that, there is a perpetual atmosphere of angst at the pavement's edge, where cyclists are expected to sequester themselves, as we struggle to find our own spaces.

So part of my struggle to avoid taking for granted the opportunity to commute by bike daily is remembering that I'm doing what I only dreamt of doing just six years ago.

I thoroughly enjoy riding in all sorts of weather, in all states of personal disrepair, through all seasons and at all times of day. But when immersed in the context of day to day living it becomes too easy to fall into a rut and to begin hating the "drudgery" of bicycle commuting.

The truth is, if I could always choose my destinations, I don't think the journey would ever stale.

My recent daydreams involve long bike tours. I'm back to snacking on Ken Kifer's trip reports when no one's looking.

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