Commuting Series – Musings of a Bicycle Lady

A month or two ago I wrote how I was looking for guest bloggers to write posts about Bike Commuting.  You see, getting around, doing errands and living life by bike is important to me because it brings me joy, saves me money and insures that I can still eat Chicken Fried Steak like it’s going out of style.  And I’ve always tried to bring others into my world, I love showing people the Car Free light and helping them out.

But I wanted other’s viewpoints on the subject.  I am only one guy and I know that you all probably get tired of hearing my incessant drum-beating.

Check out one of my earliest blog entries here, where I give a pretty decent summation of how and why I started riding instead of driving.

The great Gillian Grant riding along Dallas’ Margaret Hunt Hill bridge.

But now I have Gillian who can give you some of her thoughts on the subject.

Musings of a Bicycle Lady
I bought a touring bike after Christmas 2011 to prepare for RAGBRAI 2012 (a raucous fun week long summer ride from the western to the eastern border of Iowa that is a must do). I put on 2000 miles in preparation and that is how I started bike commuting in earnest earlier that same year. 
I ride 25 miles each day total commuting to work. It is about an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. (Incidentally, I bike to a train). At first I was taking some major roads, but then I found some quick residential back streets that add mileage but have much less traffic on them.
Some thoughts I have had about this change in my life and about cycling, in random order:
  • I didn’t realize how attuned I would be to the forecast of the wind in addition to the temps, until I started biking to work.
  • Amazing how quickly I got to know the bumps and cracks and divisions on the streets on my commute. I anticipate them now.
  • I have learned how I really do need to dress for it being 20 degrees warmer because within a few miles, that is how much my body heats up.
  • Good quality lights for the front and back are a must and they aren’t cheap.
  • As a single lady, I feel surprisingly safe even riding home in the dark at night. Or maybe I am just used to it.
  • I have a newfound appreciation for Christmas lights as they are fun to see.
  • I love greeting folks out walking their dogs or picking up the newspaper with a chipper “Good Morning!” or “Happy Friday to you!”
  • I am a yard art fan now. I see it all. On my route there is a great Buddha, pelicans, elephants, frogs, jumping dolphins, a St. Christopher (I think), and my favorite of all, fairies.
  • Motorists have been so far kind to me. Not many issues with them. I try to give many of them friendly waves. Since I leave my home at same time every day, they may do the same, and may recognize me. I like to think folks may see me and think “hey, look at her, I could do that.” Most probably they just say “OMG!”
  • I have a train I must catch and have picked out landmarks by the minute so I know I am on time. For example, I need to be at the fairies by 8:25.
  • I have learned that what slows me down going to work are the traffic lights. They can conspire to make me late. Cycling faster never seems to make up time. Traffic lights can definitely add minutes to the ride.
  • I was surprised to feel how much cooler green spaces are than residential areas. There is a significant drop in temps as you leave houses and zip through a park.
  • I love arriving at work refreshed and ready for the day. And the bike ride home is the perfect wind-down from the day.
  • What a slacker I feel like when I do drive to work. An odd feeling not unlike how guilty I feel when I forget to bring in my canvas grocery bags and instead take out plastic.
  • I am stunned to see how quickly I have embraced the cyclist/ runner answer to dealing with mucous buildup in the sinuses. Snot rockets = not my most ladylike moment.
  • What a sense of victory I have when I am able to go from one weekend to the next without getting in my car.
  • I feel super observant of the streets and houses on my route- I notice so much- who mowed the lawn, who has bulk recycling out, who always has a car parked out front, etc.
  • I am a kitty person by nature and I gleefully call out to every kitty. I know where they live and where they like to hang out and I love calling out “Puddy Tat!” and when they look my way, I often call out “I see you!”
  • I am surprised to see how many folks drive around smoking and how many drive around with dogs in their cars with them. I had not noticed it as a driver.
  • The right gear makes all the difference- for cold, wet, etc.
  • Oh my, I never knew how many squirrels, possums, rabbits, and even mice/ rats get killed on the streets until I started looking at their carcasses as I ride by at 14 miles per hour. To each one, I can’t help but say and look, “oh, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.” – knowing full well it doesn’t help but somehow makes me feel better.   

So it might be a little hard to see yourself riding a bike to work every day right now but just like Gillian shows you’ll soon learn the tricks of the trade.  Once that happens, once that bug has bitten you it’s a slippery slope.  You might even think about wearing one of those funny cycling caps!
Want to share your commuting story?  What got you onto a bike and out of a car?  Let me know, EMAIL me or contact me via Facebook!
This is a picture from Amsterdam where people ride to work,
 and everywhere else.
Photo courtesy MOMorcats.com

2 Comments

  1. This is so great! It really is impressive at how much we miss seeing in our city when we are in our cars.

    Ride on!

  2. Dearest Gillian, way to go! I really, really wish I had a safe route to my school building, a mere 6.2 miles away. You inspire me with your story of your lengthy ride each way. Yes, I know about the wind and the weather. The wind always seemed to change direction so that I was constantly riding into it. One day it became so strong that I had to gear down and I felt like I had biked straight up Mount McKinley when I finally gasped my way down my street. Good onya!

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