Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rocky start

Date: April 27
Mileage: 31.5
April mileage: 717.9
Temperature: 45

The rain was coming in sideways when I felt my rear rim dragging on pavement. I pulled over to the side of the road to assess where I was; I had been squinting into the dim yellow circle cast by my headlight for so long that I wasn’t even sure. I shifted my trunk bag to reach my repair gear when it dawned on me that the headlight was in fact my only source of light. There was no way to illuminate the wheel so I could change the flat. I clip clopped in my cleats down the road, grumbling about how I really should have switched out my pedals when I had the chance. I walked nearly a half mile before I reached the nearest street light. Slimy brake dust goo and grit dripped down my fingers as I removed the rim. The rest of the flat change went quickly, but as I stood up to leave, I realized that the jeans I was wearing, covered by my very best pair of rain pants, had already soaked through. The denim chafed and scraped my thighs as I started pedaling. Stupidly, I had left them on because I thought they would keep me warmer than my wet tights. I stopped to adjust my pants. It was 11:15 p.m. My socks were soaked. My gloves were soaked. The headwind was so strong I had barely cracked 10 mph since I left work. "Could this commute be going much worse?" I thought. That's when I noticed my red blinkie was missing from my trunk bag.

Today was day five of my summer as an everyday bicycle commuter. Today was also day five of my summer as a single person. I can’t say either is going very well, but at least I can still attribute the glitches to growing pains. Packing for the commute has been an experiment in disarray. I've been using a rear pannier, a trunk bag and a Camelbak just to carry all the crap I have with me, and still every day I forget something crucial ... my bike lock, a salad I had planned to eat for dinner, dry socks, the key card I need to get into the building. When the weather is similar to what it has been these past two days - steady rain with sustained 20-25 mph winds - I've learned I need two pairs of gloves, two pairs of underwear, two pairs of socks, rain coat and pants, my regular bike clothes, and my work clothes. If I don't carry two pairs of regular bike clothes, I either have to put wet clothes on when I leave, or wear my work clothes home, as I did yesterday. My office is set up "newsroom" style (i.e. a cubicle without the cubicle) Company decorum dictates that I can't hang up wet clothes everywhere, so everything but my coat and pants gets stuffed in a drawer, where it stays wet.

As I suspected, the wetness has been tough. I still get out in the morning for workouts. Today I did a quick-but-strenuous block of intervals over 19 miles, came home soaked, took a shower, and then had to head back out in the weather to go to work.

And I have to admit that I leave work thinking, "Hmm. I could be in a warm car right now. I could be home in 10 minutes." I leave work at 11 and all I'm interested in is being at home. I do not want to be riding my bike in the rain.

I also miss my dinner breaks. I used to take an hour every day to go home and eat dinner with Geoff. Now that he's gone, there's no reason for me to go home for dinner. So instead I take about 20 minutes and eat a salad in the company break room. Spending my entire shift at the office sure makes the workday seem longer. But I'm not about to go back out in the weather.

That said, I'm going to stick with the bike commuting. I'm hoping routine kicks in to make it less stressful, and experience kicks in to make it more enjoyable. I figure bike commuting is like endurance racing ... suffering is what makes the experience worthwhile.