by Gary Timmons
I've been commuting by bike between my home in Bethesda and my office
in downtown D.C. a couple of days a week for about seven years now. It
occurred to me a short time ago as I listened to our Pedal Patter
editor-also a bike commuter, by the way-bemoan her challenges finding
content for this, our beloved newsletter, that a few words about bicycle
commuting might be in order. Thus was born this, the first in what I
managed to convince her will be a series of articles sharing thoughts
and observations about bike commuting.
Let me admit from the outset that I am favored among bike
commuters. I can easily cover the ten miles from home to office in
less than an hour, my office building has a small locker room in the
basement with a working shower, and well over half my route is on trails
rather than roads and streets. That notwithstanding, I am sometimes
prone-as are many of us- to what has come to be called "bike commuter's
distemper." When an attack comes on, the commuter in question will
throw down an offending mangled bike part, tool, or ruined article of
clothing and swear that he has pedaled out into the commuter lanes for
the last time. For my part, a few sedatives and a brief nap are all I
need to reconsider and venture forth as per usual the next morning.
What accounts, you may ask, for this curious, self-destructive
obsession some of us (you know who you are) have with commuting by bike?
I am hopeful we can explore that in future issues. I am by no means
an expert; just someone who has been doing this a while. Topics for
future articles may or may not include:
- good cycling manners on trail and street-why are they so hard to find?
- riding in the winter-dedication or derangement?
- cycling in city traffic-indispensable aid to living in the moment
- accurate weather forecasting-object of the commuter's obsession
- packing for the work day, or how to become the worst-dressed person on your floor
- trail tools and parts-how to bring what you don't need so you won't have what you do need when you need it
- bike commuting after dark-a suicide so implausible your insurance company will probably still pay out
As I expect to run out of my own observations and comments fairly
quickly, I'd be grateful if anyone has an anecdote or other information
to share that's even remotely related to bike commuting. Such readers
are advised, however, that said material is very likely to receive
cosmetic changes and be passed off as my own. My contact information is
on the masthead (page 2) of this newsletter. Calls are welcome but
e-mail is encouraged. See you next month.