Commuting to Work, Sans Shower?by Cheryl Brawner
Now, that might not sound like a socially acceptable idea, but let me tell you how itís possible ó without offending off your co-workers! Try TARCís "Bikes on Board" program. I started June 1st, with some trepidation, but now I look forward to my ďunorthodoxĒ commute via bus and bike.
My typical workday commute goes like this: I jump on my mountain bike (which hadnít had much action since my single-track racing days in the í90s) for a 3-block ride to the bus stop (2-3 minutes) wearing my office garb, plus a helmet and some Shimano touring/flat shoes. I stuff my purse, dress shoes, lunch, and my afternoon commuteís riding essentials in a backpack. In a few minutes, Iím on the bus, enjoying lively conversation with some newfound like-minded friends, and Iím at work in no time ó fresh and unscathed!
My co-workers are very inquisitive about my Mongoose steed that I stable in the file room, with its SPD pedals, Specialized seat and ďwore-out lookingĒ tires (they are modified slicks for road use). Albeit my colleagues are all very supportive, I canít help but think that some of them are a little jealous that I have the ability and spunk to do what Iím doing. Wait ó maybe they think Iím crazy. But, most of them donít even own a bike, and half of them live so far out, it would take them half a day to ride home on a bike, even at their fittest.
I always look forward to my ride home, no matter how difficult the day. I change into my cycling duds and head out for a leisurely ride home. Depending on my route, it takes about 50 minutes to an hour to get to the house. I donít push it, and I try to take the least busy routes home for safetyís sake, since Iím alone, traffic is heavy, and most drivers arenít expecting to see me. I avoid the downtown crush by taking the wharf and Waterfront Park to Witherspoon, through Butchertown and Clifton, and then make the decision to either wind through Cherokee and Seneca Parks or head through Crescent Hill. Most days, when I pass over I-64 on Payne Street, traffic on the freeway is at a near standstill in both directions, giving me pause to wave and gawk at the ďcagersĒ (as bicycle commuters often refer to automobile commuters). They are trapped on their way home, stuck in their fume-belching cars in rush hour traffic, while I glide over them on my sleek, miraculous human-powered machine, with an admitted smirk on my face! My fine ride is keeping me healthy in mind, body and spirit, and leaving no negative footprint on the Earth!
Sure, I have to rise from the comfort of my bed 20 minutes earlier than if I were to just jump in my car and drive downtown. It is a small price to pay. It has turned out to be just a minor inconvenience, in that Iím always early for work now, and the boss looks kindly on that! Unlike driving my commute, the bus ride is quiet, serene and uneventful, and the bike ride home leaves me refreshed and in a great mood (albeit a little on the sweaty side, but I didnít say I didnít shower AFTER my ride home!). Plus, the fact that I am saving money on fuel, parking, maintenance and the like is just that more reason to be a believer! Also, my fitness level seems to have benefited from a mandatory daily workout on the ďheavyĒ mountain bike with a backpack in tow. Speaking from experience, this past weekend, my road bike rode like the wind!
I have to admit, I had my doubts about the program and its possible pitfalls, but since Iíve tried it, I intend to continue through at least September, in that Iím not much on riding in bad weather, so I will probably revert back to my old ways this winter. My hat (helmet) goes off to TARCís Geoffrey Hobin for making Bikes On Board not only a reality, but an astounding success! I donít have the latest statistics, but last I heard, TARC was averaging over 5,000 bike ďboardingsĒ a MONTH! Now that is something to cheer about!
Why donít you join us? I beckon you ó give it a try this summer! In a nutshell, the pluses of TARCing and bike commuting far outweigh the minuses.
Find out more at http://ridetarc.com/bikesonboard.asp.
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web posted: 18 July 2005
last updated: 20 July 2005