Monday, June 18, 2007

Bike Commuting, Ch. 2 (Or, "How I Walked to Work Last Wednesday")

My first experience bike commuting was marvelous; both my bike and I made it to NPR and back home injury free, and I really enjoyed it. My original plan was to take the Metro on Wednesday and wait until Thursday to ride to work again, but I was so eager to get back on the bike that I decided not to take a day off.

Wednesday morning, I woke up at 7 and looked outside to make sure the weather wasn't threatening. Sunshine--we're good to go. I once again dressed myself in my spandex shorts and saddled up for another ride.

As I rode by the Reflecting Pool, I started to notice a sound, a squeak coming from the rear tire. "I probably just need to adjust my brakes," I thought. Then, as I climbed the gentle incline alongside the Washington Monument, I noticed that I wasn't picking up speed regardless of how hard I pedaled. It dawned on me that I had probably blown my rear tube at some point in the ride, but I kept on pedaling, in denial. I couldn't have a flat tire here, a 30-minute walk from work, ill-equipped to make the simple repair!

Eventually, I could hear the wheel grinding on the pavement. This marked the end of my denial, which was about to get a lot more expensive if I didn't get off the bike. I slowly looked back at my rear tire and saw that it was miserably deflated. I'm usually not big on literary devices, but I think you could call it a metaphor.

So I walked with the bike in tow and eventually turned onto Pennsylvania Avenue from 15th. When you walk along Pennsylvania Avenue around 8 a.m. on a weekday morning, you're going to see a lot of people. People wearing suits, people looking very official. I was wearing spandex. I don't mean Lance Armstrong-yellow jersey-hardcore cyclist spandex. That would've been okay. I mean a pair of spandex left over from my rowing days paired with a raggedy UNC t-shirt. And I love my bike--a Specialized Hard Rock that I got for my 15th birthday and have refused to part with--but it's starting to show its age. For example, my "replacement" handlebar grips were found on the ground near railroad tracks in Chapel Hill (true story). With an old duffel bag slung over my shoulder, I'd like to think I looked like a bohemian who had taken a wrong turn on his way to Haight-Ashbury, but I probably just looked really weird. Okay, ten more blocks to go.

Offering eye-contact and a smile to anyone who would reciprocate ("I'm on my way to work just like everyone else. No big deal, right?"), I trekked to the NPR office where I could finally park my sorry bike, drown my sorrows in the lower level showers, and change into a less eye-catching outfit. An interesting way to start the day.

The moral of the story: ride your bike to work. Best case scenario, you'll get some exercise and save $1.55; worst case scenario, you'll get a good story and save $1.55.


Allison said...

Yay for optimism!

Oh, crew spandex.
...Oh, crew spandex.

I feel like that a lot, except it's more like an oh-god-I-don't-naturally-possess-much-semi-formal-garb-and-I-look-so-awkward-because-my-colors-don't-match feeling while walking through the halls.

Steve Mendoza said...

I'm forcasting the same thing to happen to me when I finally get my first bike in a long time out of the shop. But I prefer to bike in jean cutoffs

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