Monday, May 20, 2013

Day 8 - Biking to Work

I have never biked to work. This fact is a little embarrassing considering I live in one of the most bike-friendly cities in the nation; even more so when one takes into account the fact that I live within two blocks of one of the main bike paths through the city.  Despite the fact I have always wanted to make a bike commute a part of my weekday routine, I never got around to giving it a try. As it turns out, my "I have never..." challenge proved the perfect source of motivation to make my first experience biking to work a reality, and it proved rather rewarding.

I started my morning out an hour earlier than normal to give myself enough time to get prepared and complete the nine mile ride into work. After packing a bag with a my regular workday essentials and a change of clothes, I started my journey toward my office building.  A brief trip down the city street that runs in front of my house led me straight to the bike path that would guide me for the majority of my ride. Following my turn onto the path, I immediately noticed a change in the environment. The whirring of the road faded away leaving only the sounds of the birds singing and the gentle breeze blowing through the morning air. The bike path, still damp from the previous night's rain, was mostly free of other people except for the occasional jogger, dog walker, and bicyclist.  I figured the majority of people were likely avoiding outdoor activity during the early morning hours as a result of the continuing threat of rain, but I was happy to be surrounded by the stillness that came as I traveled further away from the hustle and bustle of the city streets.

The morning ride.
The gears on my bike hummed as I coasted through nature preserves, city parks, and along dead end streets. Except for the periodic street crossing, I was surrounded by the sites and sounds of nature. Even the city parks were largely free of people, giving the urbanite rabbits, squirrels, and other critters free reign over the terrain. The further I got into my journey, the more I noticed myself starting to relax. Sure my legs were working hard, but my mind was at ease. I wasn't thinking about the workday ahead of me, the number of miles I had left in my ride, or even whether I would make it to work on time. I was simply cruising through quiet and untouched parts of the city absorbing the sights and sounds around me. Now, the very concept of decompressing before work felt foreign to me, but I wasn't about to question its presence.  Instead, I let the feeling wash over me knowing it would undoubtedly help me through my workday.  The ride was going well, and I was feeling good... Then came the hills.

Two hills down, two to go...
With less than two miles left in my ride, the bike path merged with a city street on the east side of town. The street cut a straight line through the last residential neighborhood before the corporate park that contains my office building. The morning sun beat down on me as I peddled down the street, and within minutes I could feel the grade of the pavement slowly and steadily increasing. The incline of the road was gradual, but it was enough to make me start to notice the fact I had been moving my legs for the better part of 30 minutes.  I could feel my heart beat quicken as my feet maintained their pace.  Sweat started to bead on my brow as the slope of the road increased slightly more. I was getting tired, fast. I made it over the first hill, and welcomed a slight downhill drift.  Just as I began to catch my breath another, steeper hill greeted me. I pushed on. Then came the incline over the freeway. I kept going.

Less than a mile from my office, I quickly noticed the earlier feeling of tranquility had all but disappeared as I began to worry about what time it was and about the tasks I knew I had to accomplish during the day. "Monday...", I thought, "Damnit, it's a Monday..." I snapped myself out of my worried state as I rounded one of the last curves before my office building.  My eyes widened as they caught sight of the last hill left to conquer on my trek. Its slope seemed to increase endlessly as I began pushing myself toward the top. I shifted gears to give my legs some rest and kept peddling. "Almost there... Come on..." I said between labored breaths. With my legs ablaze I hammered my eyes shut and bore down. What seemed like minutes passed as I continued to peddle. Suddenly, I felt the resistance ebb and the force of gravity begin to work with me.  I opened my eyes and saw my office building from atop the hill.  I made it, but I needed a shower... bad.

After parking my bike I quickly rummaged through my bag for my cell phone and work ID.  I was relieved to see I had made much better time than I thought I would. I was even more relieved to find that the onsite shower was free.  Following a quick clean up and a change into my work clothes, I climbed the stairs to my floor and made my way to my desk.  The workday flew by as I hurried through  the reports, administrative tasks, and meetings that occupied every square inch of my Outlook calendar.  Sooner than expected, the workday had drawn to a close and my journey home was ready to begin.

Almost home...
With some rest my legs felt much better at the start of the ride home. I retraced the path I had taken to start the day, enjoying the much easier ride down the trifecta of stepped hills within the first few miles of my office. I noticed the streets and the bike paths were busier than they were in the morning, which made navigating the road home much more challenging. The air was also much warmer after hours of sunlight pummeled the pavement, which quickly increased my body temperature. As a result, I took my time riding home knowing I was no longer up against the clock. Surprisingly, the ride felt much shorter; perhaps because my mind no longer free to wander as I darted around the runners, families, and school children the speckled the bike path. It was still an enjoyable ride, but the serenity that accompanied the morning commute was hard to find amid the activity of a city brought to life by a beautiful early summer evening.  Before I knew it, I was home for the evening and ready for another shower...

My first experience biking to work was challenging and gratifying. I know my legs will be sore tomorrow, but a little stiffness is well worth the opportunity to try something new. I have never had the ability to unwind before the start of a workday, which is valuable enough to make biking to work a repeat event in my life. Although I know I will not likely have many opportunities to bike to work over the next 357 days, I'm sure it will be a part of my routine next spring and summer. The peace of mind I gained this morning is worth it... and I want make sure those hills know I can kick their ass whenever my heart desires.

Bonus! - This is me as a sweaty mess looking like an exhausted idiot.


  1. Wow, that was an awesome post! Couldn't stop Lol'ing. Props Mayan, props!

  2. Glad you enjoyed it! There will be plenty more to come! :)