Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bike to Work Day Tomorrow

Tomorrow is Bike to Work Day according to WABA, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. Despite my historically suspicious relationship with WABA, I think I'm going to do it unless we are in the middle of another monsoon, the likes of which seem to soak us about two or three times a week this spring. My backyard, incidentally, resembles something between the field at RFK Stadium after a truck and tractor pull, and a pig sty. I nearly had to tow my car out of the sludge on Monday.

Back to the biking. With gas topping $4 per gallon, and the warranty several years since expired on my car, I had been thinking it's pretty lame (and expensive) to be driving to work every day. And seeing as I work for an environmental consulting firm - that is, my job is actually to get people to burn fewer fossil fuels, among other things - it's downright hypocritical. Oh, did I mention that I live three blocks from the metro, and my office (three stops away) is also three blocks from the metro?

The problem is, I like driving. My awesome commute is exactly five miles, from Columbia Heights to Silver Spring. It's a reverse commute, so traffic is never too bad. Most of the drive is on 16th Street, which I can say, without hyperbole, is the closest thing to the Autobahn in the United States of America. I am pretty sure I've made it in less than 10 minutes before. While racing cars on the way to work at 75 mph, before my first cup of coffee, with a hangover, probably isn't the smartest thing to do, it sure is a good way to get the adrenaline flowing.

Umm... did I really say that? Yeah, just kidding... so.... anyway, back to the biking again. I have a great bike that I bought while I was living in Gettysburg a couple years ago (see early entries in this blog for some reminiscing of that). I have hardly used it since being back in DC, despite the fact that it's a perfect city bike. It's a Specialized Tricross, which is a so-called "cyclocross" bicycle. This is a sport in which I am sure I will never participate, but the upshot of the design is that it's basically a road bike but with bigger and stronger forks that can accommodate wider tires than a typical road bike. And put up with a good deal more abuse, which means I don't need to worry about busting a wheel on one of DC's 9,333,452 potholes. But it weighs hardly more than a good road bike, so it's not like riding a mountain bike around paved roads, which feels like riding through jello compared to being on a road bike.

Finally, I'm going to run a marathon in the fall. To this end I'll probably be running at least 5 times a week. Seems awfully stupid to drive 5 miles to work and back, and then run around for 5 miles. I should just be running to work and metroing home, or biking one way and running the other. I haven't figured out the logistics, but I'm sure there's some sensible way to end up with the bike at the right end of my commute on the days I run one way or the other.

So where was I? Oh yeah, biking to work. I figure this is as good a time as any to get on this program. I personally find WABA to be a rather pompous, narrow-minded organization based on debates I have had in the past over road use in DC. And the average DC bicyclist obeys about as many laws of the road as a Cannonball Run participant. I've nearly been in more accidents with cyclists running stop signs and red lights than I can count. And I have always enjoyed the third-finger salute I've received from those spandex-wearing, shaved-legged snobs when calling them out on it with their own "Share the Road" refrain. So I do this not out of solidarity for DC's cyclist culture, which I think does itself a horrible disservice by being both self-righteous and above the law. But I do it because it's downright practical.

Let's hope it sticks. I'll be the one on 14th Street cursing at you for cutting me off tomorrow morning.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am proud of you, Jamie!... now, if only the probability of rain tomorrow morning wasn't 80%.... ugh