Friday, May 7, 2010

Bike Commutes #16 to 21, in review

The last Bike Commute I really blogged about was #15, I think. Bike Commute #16 was pretty routine, at least I can't remember a thing about it now. I managed to jam Bike Commutes # 17 - 20 all in one week.

During spring break, the elementary school was closed. My mom came down to watch the kids for the week, so we didn't have to take any days off of work. I drove in to work on Monday that week, like usual. Tuesday we decided I would leave a car for my mom & the kids to use and I would carpool with my wife part way and then she would drop me off and I would bike to work. This would be a longer bike commute than normal, but I was up for the challenge.


 The ride in was about 10.5 miles. In the afternoon my wife agreed to pick me up at a Starbucks, nearby where I normally park my car during my standard bike commute days, so my ride home was just about the same. The extra mileage in the morning added about twenty minutes over my normal time - about 45 minutes overall. This would make for a good upgrade from my normal ride, but there is no park & ride lot near where I got dropped off, so logistically I haven't been able to figure it out. I also don't know if I could leave early enough when I have to get the kids ready in the morning.

Anyway, that was a success, so we repeated the routine for the rest of the week. It was the first time I had ridden three or more times in one week. By Friday my legs were starting to feel the effects a little. I decided to challenge myself on the ride home that Friday and ride a little further and tackle a short climb to boot. On the way to work, I ran into a group of kids riding bikes to the middle school nearby. Stopped at the traffic light I saw one bike after another pull up to the corner. I was pleasantly surprised at how many kids were biking to school. There were a couple more bikes just outside this shot, but a big SUV pulled up and obscured them.

In the afternoon I had planned to take the first part of the ride easy knowing I had to deal with a hill at the end. Quickly into the ride I hit a stop light and two guys on an afternoon ride pulled up along side. The lead guy greeted me and complimented my bike. At the green light, I let them go in front and I cheerfully slotted in behind. I tried to go with them, but made sure not to get too close. They were taking a pretty easy pace, it seemed to me at the time. They both appeared to be on vintage bikes. I assume this because each bike had downtube shifters. I couldn't figure out the silver bike of the lead guy. It was devoid of any decals. His friend was on a lugged-steel Bianchi in the traditional celeste paint. Very nice.

As I said, they didn't seem to be pushing the pace very hard and I didn't have to struggle to keep them within reach. It was also windy, as have been all my afternoon rides lately. The two riders peeled off a right turn at one point and I pushed on. At this point, I was about a mile from my normal stopping point. Even though I was going to ride further, as I passed the park & ride lot I glanced down at my bike computer and I think it was the fastest I'd ever reached that point. I pressed on anticipating the steep climb up to the meeting spot I had worked out with my wife. Thankfully, the climb was only about a mile. Here's the elevation profile below.

All in all, I did fine going up, though there is a traffic light dead in the middle of the top section and I nearly had to come to a full stop. I didn't know if I would've made it if I had to stop and start. When I got to our meeting point, coincidentally another Starbucks, I treated myself to a nice cold passion tea lemonade.

That takes me through Bike Commute #20. I've had this post in draft for a few weeks now, so I have totally forgotten if there was anything else I wanted to say about my milestone Bike Commute #21. Oh well, today was Bike Commute #23.

In a couple weeks, on May 21, is the official Bike to Work Day. I am going to try to do a longer commute similar to the spring break rides I described above so that I can hit at least two of the official Bike to Work Day stations.

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