Experimental music, photography, and adventures

My streets

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

My commutes the past few days have been cold, rainy, and dark — and wonderful. Let me tell you why.

I wake up and begrudgingly get out of bed, stretching and peering out from behind the curtain to see what kind of day awaits me. Each day is a bit darker than the one before due to overcast skies and as a result of the days growing shorter. The parking lot glistens with rainwater as I look out on another dreary day and water flows through the gutters to drain below, dripping audibly. I shower and get dressed, gather my things for work, turn on the front and rear lights on bicycle  and set out for work.

I begin to feel more alert and awake as I pedal. Even though it’s raining, I stay mostly dry thanks to my water-resistant jacket and pants. My face gets wet, but it’s cool and refreshing. I watch the world awaken around me and the leaves seem more colorful as my eyes finally start to focus properly . I cross the railroad tracks and turn onto the bike path, on my way seeing the old man, with his wide-brimmed hat and his dog. They walk through here frequently and I always watch for them.

The path is usually vacant and I’m protected by trees creating a tunnel in which I ride. I am surrounded by leaves, some brilliant and some already dead and dull, both above me and on the path below. I ride cautiously since wet leaves can be hazardous, but I take advantage of this time to smell the fallen leaves and the moist earth. I have this path to myself and even though I pass between apartment buildings and railroad tracks, it feels like I’m riding on a path through the woods. There’s an especially intimate feeling riding through here on a dark rainy day when many people worry about getting wet on the way to their car. I embrace this chance to connect with the world on my way to work.

Soon, I come to the end of the path and ride on the road once again. I cross a busy street and then ride on some residential streets. I may see a few cars and another bicycle or two, but by and large these are my streets. I haven’t seen the old couple on their daily walks for a while but I have been riding later than usual. I am sure they’re still walking.

I come to campus and ride through carefully. This is the most populous part of my ride, but motor vehicle traffic is light; it’s mostly pedestrians and bicycles. I pass through a nicely-landscaped path and go by the fountain and see several buildings with contrasting architecture from a bit gothic to more contemporary, somehow sharing the same space harmoniously. Pedestrians walk every which way without paying any attention to what they’re doing, but I have a finger on the pulse of their movements and anticipate them, choosing a straight line through the crowd despite their irregular, dynamic traffic patterns.

For most people, campus is their destination so as I continue past it I am on largely-deserted streets. I climb a long but gradual incline and stop at the stoplight, one of two along my commute route. It turns green but I take my time, knowing that if I hurry to the next light I’ll just have to stop. Instead, pedal at a leisurely pace to the next light and it changes as I arrive. I go down a hill, darting past a left-turning car, and turn toward my workplace.

I enter the building, getting strange looks from some as I walk past with my helmet. My clothes are wet, but I feel quite dry and comfortable. Clearly they think it’s dumb to ride to work in this weather. I can’t help but agree — it seems completely silly. I shouldn’t have ridden to work, I should have ridden to the edge of town and continued past it, ambling through the countryside and seeing more of what the world has to offer.

6 Responses to “My streets”

  1. MRMacrum Says:

    I often want to keep going instead of turning into my parking lot. That you found yourself wishingto keep riding in the rain just points up the joy ou have in the act of cycling. Good post.

  2. furiousBall Says:

    it’s a shame countryside bicycling doesn’t pay that well ain’t it?

  3. john Says:

    How many of those who think you are nuts for riding in the rain smoke. Or are eating McDonnalds breakfast, are obese, etc. We all have our quirks and yours happens to be healthy.

  4. john Says:

    p.s. And just wait till they see you when the temps are below freezing and your still riding. That’ll get em’

  5. Pedalman Says:

    This is one of the best posts I’ve ever read. You were able to put words to the feelings that are invoked in me in my early morning rides. I’m jealous of your commute, and ability to put it into words.

  6. Ear to the Breeze » Blog Archive » Commutiversary Says:

    […] I’ve ridden on beautiful days: I watched flowers bloom in the spring and enjoyed the rustling of leaves beneath my tires in the fall. I’ve ridden on hot summer days and arrived at work sweaty, but still smiling. I’ve ridden in 0-degree temperatures, days so cold condensation froze on my bicycle. I’ve ridden in rain, fog, mist, snow, sleet, freezing rain, and ice. I’ve begun to feel these are my streets. […]

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