Sarah and I had a great weekend. We spent a lot of time outdoors and did some photography. I also put in over 40 miles of road riding over the weekend. I’ll post more on those topics later; For now, I want to talk about my first commute by bicycle, which I did this morning.
I had worked out a route in advance, and did a trial run on Saturday (see the route on Bikely.com). It’s only 2.79 miles, and it took me 12 1/2 minutes on my test ride. Of course, that was at a pretty brisk pace, and on a Saturday afternoon during spring break. Today, it took about 15 minutes, and I averaged 12.4 mph. Normally, it’ll take a bit longer than that.
Last night, I gathered most of the things I knew I’d need and put them in a backpack. I need to get a rack and some panniers or another kind of bag, but for now, I’m using the backpack. In the backpack, I put:
- Undershirt, underwear, socks — intended as spares
- Belt and shoes
- Deodorant, some wet wipe things to clean my face, comb
- Pump, patch kit, bike lock, Sarah’s old digital camera
This morning, I got up, took a shower, and put on my pants that zip off into shorts, a white T-shirt, and a jacket. I put a pair of dress pants and a shirt in the backpack. Sarah had told me it was only 32 degrees outside, so I grabbed my full-fingered biking gloves and put the cutoff gloves in the backpack. I had discovered the night before that my coffee mug actually fits in the water bottle holders in my bike, so I put that in there. I put on my biking shoes and left.
Due to the time change, it was still a little bit dark this morning, but not bad. I set out and turned onto the bike path — I didn’t see a single other person on it (not that it’s that long), and it’s fun to ride because it’s hilly and you can really get moving. The only problem is that it spits me out at the Bypass, a very busy road that I have to cross, and there’s no stoplight or stop sign there, so I just have to wait for a gap in the traffic. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait too long.
After that, almost the entire route is on 7th Street, which was pretty vacant due to the lack of IU students (spring break). I went at a moderate pace, slower than I usually ride, since I didn’t want to work up too much of a sweat, but I kept moving pretty well. Most of the stop signs I rolled right through, as nobody was around. IU’s campus is fairly pretty, so it was a pleasant ride, but I’m worried that it’ll be too crowded once the students come back.
There are only two stoplights along the way, and they’re at consecutive streets, so it’s unlikely I’ll have to stop at both of them. I had to stop at the first one this morning, but the second was green by the time I got to go.
I had prearranged to put my bike in a storage room during the day, but I have to open the door from the inside, leaving the bike outside while I do so. In fact, there are two sets of doors, but the inner one even had a doorstop, making it very easy to bring my bike inside.
I should have changed clothes in the storage room, but instead went and changed in the stall in the bathroom. This was far from ideal, as it’s hard to change in such a confined space. My shirt was a little bit wrinkled, but the wrinkles came out after I wore it for a few minutes. My back was a bit sweatier than I would’ve liked, due to the backpack. I combed my hair, put on some more deodorant, changed shoes and put my biking shoes back in the storage room.
All in all, I’d have to say that my first commuting attempt was a success. However, there are some improvements I need to make:
- Get a rack/bags so I don’t need to use the backpack
- Leave shoes at work
- Change in the storage room
- Wear something other than an undershirt while riding, since I’m going to change it anyway.
- Remember my breakfast
Things I liked:
- Riding is invigorating and helped me wake up
- The bike path
- Riding through campus (again, this was probably only enjoyable because it was vacant)
- Birds flying alongside me as I rode
- Fresh air
If you look at those lists, you’ll notice that the only problems I had were related to carrying gear and changing my clothes — no problems with the ride itself.
I’d like to thank VelociPete and SpiralCage for their excellent commuting blogs, which in part inspired me to try this. I also hope to start something like SpiralCage’s “Commute Pic of the Week,” if I keep this up.