Thursday, July 29, 2010

biking home

Tonight I was at work until almost 10.  The T rules allow you to take your bike on after 7pm, and I considered it- I was tired and I have a long day tomorrow (hence the late night tonight).

There was a post I read recently about "normalizing your commute"  It was mainly about gearing up to prevent excuses for not commuting (trailers, raingear, lights etc).  But it spoke to me about how people make excuses not to ride.  Oh, it's rainy, Oh I'm tired,  Oh, I'm running late.  Oh, the logistics of meeting people and carrying things and  getting places are complicated.

This morning it was spitting at me most of my ride in, although I didn't really get wet, and I'd brought raingear just in case it started to come down.   I thought for about 2 minutes  while I was brushing my teeth about taking the T, but I was running late, and when you factor in the walk at both ends, it's faster to bike. So before I really knew it I was on the bike and headed East.   My legs were MIA- didn't sleep well or maybe it was the heat,  but hey,  I was already riding, and I just spun my way over the bridge, and summoned all my energy for the ride up the Cambridge street hill.

And tonight- honestly, I barely considered taking the train. I'd have to lug Gilbert down three flights of stairs (or take the smelly urinal-elevator) wait for a train in the hot humid station, hold him to keep him from tipping on the ride home,  lug him back up the stairs. It wouldn't save me any time to take the T, and it wouldn't be much easier, all said. Having a system for carrying things, a habitual route, a set of lights that you don't have to fuss with, are all important- mostly because once you have them, you don't have to think about them.  Plus, I learned back when I first met Robert in Italy that riding home cures the mental ills of the day in a way no train ride will ever do.

I'm not a hero, or a martyr or some kind of superwoman,  it's partly just habit, and it's partly just easy.

But mostly it's just more fun.


  1. Absolutely! Being prepared helps so much, as does the fact that biking is just a hundred times better than the alternative.

    I also find that the longer I've been biking and the more the bike becomes a natural part of my life, the less I ever consider alternatives. When I first started biking, I thought it would be hard to do it every day, as it was always hard for me to keep up with any exercise routine, but I soon learned that biking is like nothing else I'd ever done before. Even if you're tired, it's not a big deal - as you said, just keep spinning. You can go as slow as you want and you'll still get where you're going soon enough :)

  2. oh, I hear you ... especially the part of how riding home cures the mental ills of the day. it's especially peaceful commuting late at night, after all of the traffic has ebbed down (but before it gets so late that all of the bars on State St. have unleashed their drunks)

    btw, we might have crossed paths if you left closer to 10:30 than 10. I didn't have much in the way of legs tonight, either...

  3. I know this dilemma well...ride or take just as long to not ride. but still, congrats for pulling through.
    Yesterday I got drenched through my raincoat and clothes on the way home, but I still think it was more enjoyable than a hot humid train...

  4. I came across this dilemma myself yesterday, riding home from school. My commute is about 10 miles and I was tired. But once you get on the road, you know your route, you just start spinning. Before I knew it, I was home and I felt great! Thanks for sharing, it's good to let people know that you have your moments too, and how good it feels to overcome them!

  5. dottie's comment resonated with me: the longer i've been a bike commuter (4 years now), the less i consider alternatives. during my first year bike commuting, i probably biked on average 2-3 times per week, the rest of the time taking the T or hitching a car ride with my wife. then after a year or so it became 4 times per week. it stayed that way for most of the 2nd and 3rd years commuting. now it's almost exclusively 5 days per week, rain or shine, and if i can't ride to work i feel like something is "missing" from my day, and my body feels deprived of that short bit of mild exercize. now, the only times i take the T (or hitch a car ride) are when it is snowing or dangerously icy-- probably less than 10 times per winter in total.

  6. For me, it's not about excuses; it's about what is actually easier. If it is raining and I don't take my bike, then I still have to walk to the subway from my place, and I will be soaked by the time I get there, then will have to push and shove in a crowded subway, then will get soaked again during my walk from the end stop to my destination. At least on a bike I will be more independent, and will get there faster, too.

    The only times I consider not taking my bike nowadays, is when I have to go to an area where I have never cycled before and don't quite know how bikeable the route there will be, or if I have some sort of injury. Otherwise, the bike just feels more convenient (and less exhausting!) to me than other options.

  7. The only time I take the T is when I'm with a group of friends. Echoing the others above, cycling always seems easier than the alternative.

    Like Somervillain said, not cycling makes me feel weird -- even if it's just for a day. In fact, I feel like the day is wasted. Because of that, I haven't missed a day of cycling since December (!!!). Blizzards and ice be damned.