Wednesday, June 23, 2010
A Bike Commute Quandary
Monday, after the morning gully washer had passed, after some R and R with the dogs, after soccer, lunch, and other trivial pursuits, I decided to pedal my wait out to my new work environment to see what the best way to bike there might be. Perusals of maps determined that it was possible to get from here to there using commuter trails, rather than on road routes, but the situation on the ground is always a little different than it is on the map, ain't it?
My new place of business is in the opposite diagonal corner of town, and at least twice as far. That alone will be a change that I am not looking forward to. In CoMO, my commute was ten minutes (on a bike). I was literally, around the corner from work. My last position here in Lincoln was about twenty-five minutes. I knew that I was looking at at least forty-five minutes of ride time, but I needed to know what kind of ride it was going to be.
In order to stay on trails, I had to ride away from my destination in order to pick up the trail that would take me the way I wanted to go. As far as I can figure it, there really isn't an equally safe, more direct way to go, so I am spending the extra time to ensure my own well-being. This trail, however, basically becomes a wide sidewalk just before it passes a major thoroughfare, leaving me to wait for the crosswalk. This is the same as waiting for a light, so no problem there, but I don't like riding on the sidewalk. That's not a trail, in my opinion, but I understand the dual-use idea makes all trails walks of some sort. I guess I just need to get over it.
Once over the major thoroughfare, the "trail" winds its way along a newly developed (and still being constructed) road with a trail beside it. At this point, the first trail connects to the second trail that takes me in an easterly direction (before that I was headed north-west), however, on the ground, the trails are not marked at all. There are the occasional arrows on the ground, but at this point on this ride, those arrows were few and far between. By the time I came (for the second time) to another major thoroughfare (one I would be crossing in the opposite direction from the one I had already crossed it earlier), I didn't know if I was on the trail, or just riding on a random sidewalk.
I looked to the south and realized I had been on a random sidewalk. There, a giant yellow sign with a bike on it indicated the trail crossing. Ironically, from a safety standpoint, there is no light at the trail crossing, but there is one at the random sidewalk...hmmmmm. I crossed at the trail and continued on my way.
My detours not withstanding, this was a nice trail. Wide, clearly marked, and lacking much in the way of hills. There were quite a few road crossings, but most of the roads were residential and not busy. I made my way east, until I came to another weird intersection and found myself crossing 66th Street. I was looking for 63rd. I must have missed it.
I rode up 66th, looking for a place to backtrack, and when I did, I easily found 63rd. My powers of subtraction are impeccable...up to three digits. I also noticed an apartment complex I had already pedaled through and marked that as a short cut back to my trail, since, now, I was leaving the trail and heading straight out 63rd.
I had to cross a few busy streets along this last leg, but nothing too hairy. A few hills on this little street were tough, especially in the heat of the day, but I managed. Once I arrived at my school, I had been traveling (not counting for back tracks, detours, water breaks, etc.) for exactly one hour. That's a long haul to make every day.
The ride back was quicker by about eight minutes, since I had a better idea of where I was going, but a fifty-two minute commute is one I don't know if I can make everyday. I don't know, yet. But, right now, I am leaning toward biking twice a week. Of course, I really enjoy biking to work, so I may just go all in. But a one hour ride, for me to be mentally ready for school everyday at first bell, means I have strive to be in the saddle at 5:45 every morning (which realistically means 6). That's awfully early, my friends.
--bike image taken from Biking Buck