Tuesday, March 20, 2007

THE SEASONS ARE CHANGING

{words by Reed Pike}
Finally – the first bike commute of 2007!

March 20, 2007 and I finally rode my bicycle to work. I know, I know. But really, I have some great reasons for missing almost 50 days of commuting.

First, though, I want to apologize in advance for the length of this post. My experience this morning was too spectacular and too rewarding not to record and share with others. So before I enumerate the “excuses” for not commuting on the bike sooner, and before I share my particular motivation for riding today, let me highlight my morning’s ride.

It was crisp and cool this morning as I began my ride, the sun was just beginning to light up the eastern horizon at 6:55am. It was not raining, reason enough to celebrate a spring ride in the Seattle area, but the streets were still wet from yesterday’s rain – almost an inch of rain. I quickly hooked up with the Lake Washington Bicycle Route, a network of streets, bike lanes, and bike paths that circumnavigates the lake and provides spectacular views of Mercer Island, the skyline of Seattle with the Olympic Mountains as a backdrop, and of course the lake itself.

The lake was a little choppy this morning from a southwest wind that was temporarily clearing out the cloud cover, and as the day brightened I crossed several creeks running full with yesterday’s rainfall; clear, cold water running over the moss-covered stones and sandy bottoms that make such great salmon spawning habitat. The sound of the rushing water was a clean and bright sound that seemed alive.

Soon I was riding through a more urban area on streets lined with trees showing the first signs of spring. There were trees that were just leafing out, and fruit trees in full flower. Several times as I rode through areas protected from the slight breeze, the petals fell around me like snowflakes and I was riding across carpets of pink and white blossoms. The experience was sublime; it was like nature was providing a “pink” carpet for my ride. I arrived at work (17 ½ miles and 1 hour and 4 minutes later) bathed in sunshine and reassured that long ago I made the correct lifestyle and professional choice—bicycling!

Now as great as that ride was, I am sure (or I hope) you are wondering why it took me so long to get back on the bike. There were reasons—good reasons:
1. I sold my commuting bicycle (yes, many of us have dedicated commute bicycles here in Seattle – equipped with long fenders with buddy flaps, racks, bells, etc.) and I was waiting for my new one to arrive. Even working at Raleigh we often have to wait for new bicycles, just like you, and we ship the first ones to our dealers before we fill employee orders. It always seemed like the bicycle would be here in a few days—but no, weeks went by.
2. I missed my commuting buddy. Last year through the darkest months, come rain or snow, after a late night of work or other activities, regardless of the circumstance, Pat was ready to ride. Pat has left the company and I now have no one waiting for me, except myself (see below).
3. I am a wimp. I was born and raised in Northern California, and lived in San Diego for 11 years. Down there if it rains, you just wait for the rain to stop then go ride. In the Seattle area if you don’t ride in the rain, you pretty much don’t ride. Worse, I just cannot abide having cold hands and feet! I am a wimp.

So, what motivated me to overcome these obstacles and ride this morning? Well, there were reasons—good reasons:
1. My new commuting bicycle finally arrived! It’s a tricked-out Raleigh Cadent Carbon (more on that—and pictures—in a future posting).
2. It wasn’t raining this morning when I walked out to get the paper, so the wimp factor was mitigated.
3. I am just back from the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC, March 14-16. Highlights included reintroduction of the Bicycle Commuter Act (amending the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend the transportation fringe benefit to bicycle commuters) in the House and Senate; an inspirational presentation from the Mayor of Louisville, former Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater; and a surprise appearance from 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis (Dave Hull {Raleigh Customer Service Manager} w/ Floyd Landis) Plus our little Washington State delegation had some success—after our meeting with Justus Geist, Legislative Correspondent for Senator Maria Cantwell, Justus sent us an e-mail notifying us that Senator Cantwell has decided to co-sponsor the Bicycle Commuter Act. Wow!
4. Finally, my boon traveling companion on the trip to Washington, Dave Hull, rode yesterday in the pouring rain – both directions.

With that kind of motivation how could I not ride? I have probably taxed your attention span to its very limits, so enough for now. I hope that I will see all of you on your bicycles soon. Until then, “Enjoy the Ride!”

2 comments:

Neil@ROAD said...

It's good to hear that you're commuting to work. I wish I could.

acwo said...

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keep it up!
acwo
http://tytka.blogspot.com