July 2009


A few years ago, a friend on a vegetarian forum posted about a song she was singing at the top of her lungs while in her car. A song that was nonsensical (if I remember correctly) but which she loved because it was exactly the kind of song you sing at the top of your lungs when no one is around to hear, and which makes you feel better, for whatever reason.

She didn’t have it on cd, so she was listening to it on her mp3 player.

And on this particular day, it was a gorgeous day, so she had the windows down. She was at a stoplight, singing full volume. It didn’t occur to her until after she got a very very strange look from a pedestrian how it must have seemed to be singing a song in Romanian (her native language) at the top of her lungs, singing along with a song only she could hear!

This is the song:

It makes me smile too. I had her send me the lyrics and the translation at one point, but I seem to have lost both.

There is also a Russian remix of it (haiducii is extremely popular in eastern europe, it seems!), which I like even better – a bit faster, a bit more techno, and it gets me moving and singing, even though about the only thing I can pick out properly is “hallo” and “vodka”.

This was a week that was both good and bad. Some frustrating incidents on the bike, with assholes honking at me, but the biking just feels so good that even that is just an annoyance. Work followed a similar pattern, more satisfying due to having more work to do and thus feeling more productive, but I had an incident or three with one of my team members that was extremely annoying. I’ve had issues with him in the past, but other times he’s great to work with. It means that I avoid asking him for help, because I don’t know which version of him I’ll be faced with.

I was pissed off enough at his latest shennanigans that I was still pissed off the next day, with 2 bike rides in between! Maybe I wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t been honked at on both rides. But I was, and I told a coworker about it briefly. She mentioned, with no details, that she’d heard that about him from other people too, though she’d never witnessed it first hand.

And that made me feel better. It’s not just me, you know?

Sorrow had a difficult day this week also. As I read her post tonight, my iPod was playing in shuffle mode in the background, and the russian remix of dragostea din tai came on. Sorrow’s post and the song both inspired this post of mine. Give the song(s) a whirl, but clear out your living room first, so you can twirl and jump and do whatever else the music moves you to. You’ll feel better, at least for a few minutes. I promise.

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July 29, 2008, I biked to work for the first time.

I told a friend that I feel like Superman without the blue lycra. I went into the bathroom stall a hero (okay, a bike commuter, but with all these endorphins I feel like a hero) and came out a software engineer.

What I didn’t mention in that post, for some reason, but what has stuck strongly and the most clearly in my mind about that first commute is that when I got on the bike, turned from my little side road onto the slightly bigger road and coasted up to the light…I was overwhelmed with this feeling of freedom, with the realization that I was thrilled, 1.2 minutes into the ride, simply because I was heading out without a car, without the need for a car.

That feeling has never quite left me .

My route has changed a little in the past year. I like it more now than ever.

And now I ride The Big Hill.

A couple weeks ago I saw an electronic sign as I approached the ped/bike soundwall walk-through stating that the path would be closed for two months. Dismayed, I researched, and couldn’t find more information on it. Finally late last week I saw an official news release.

I’d have to find a new route. I’d have to find an alternative to what has long been my favorite part of my commute. I wasn’t looking forward to this. When I’m on the road, I’m very confident. When I’m choosing what roads to take, I’m not. This is an issue of experience. But sometimes it is also an issue of options. That was a great route!

I have resources. I looked online, and didn’t find much useful information in the routes people posted.

I looked at maps, and was still uncertain.

I remembered that the bike advocacy / bike safety teacher who gave me my original barely-deviated-from route had mentioned that Van Dorn was more direct and pretty bikable.

So Van Dorn it was. Up big hills, past a mall, past two metro entrances and a highway entrance, and finally I was to the 2nd half of the commute I know so well. The road was very rough in some places, but overall the description of “pretty bikable” was right. In the morning, there’s almost no traffic. It is also close to 2 miles shorter, and so I’m saving some time. Not a lot, granted, but some. And sometimes a little goes a long way. If nothing else, it is nice to know that I can shave 10 minutes off my commute (or more, maybe, I’m not quite sure yet) simply by choosing a different route. Even if it isn’t as pretty.

But I knew the morning would be pretty easy – I’m ahead of the crowd in the mornings.

The afternoon was a bit more challenging. Amazingly, to me, the drivers remained civilized. My legs were beat from the hills. According to the mapping sites I’ve used, I have less total ascending and descending on the more direct commute, yet it must also be more concentrated, because it is giving my legs a beating!

And though overall it wasn’t a bad route, it also wasn’t a great route. I decided to fiddle with it. I looked at my bike map again, and got some ideas. I made my decisions before the ride home today.

I’m in love. Completely. We’ll see if it stands the test of time, but so far? Pure pleasure.

I will take more pictures hopefully soon, but for now, just two of the many details I love about my new commute:

After riding through a charming neighborhood with almost zero traffic and well maintained streets, I come to this pretty little bike/ped bridge. This is part of the Holmes Run park, which (confusingly to me) encompasses Cameron Run…waterway? The river/stream/creek is Cameron Run.

And then riding through the next charming neighborhood with almost no traffic, I saw this sign, which I circled back to take a picture of. I think this baffled the pedestrian, who watched me with a wary eye, one hand on his backpack strap as he prepared to run screaming into the gorgeous afternoon if the cyclist did anything even more bizarre…

For the record, I am a HUGE fan of the “Safe Route To School” program. I have many reasons for this. First of all, kids spend plenty of time in the car, and it is a great way to safely show them an alternative to motorized transportation. Second of all, if it is safe to ride, it is safe to walk, and we’re talking about schools. Third of all, if more kids (and their parents maybe, like Random) were riding their bikes instead of being driven in cars, the areas around schools would be safer. Much much safer. For the kids, for the parents, and for everyone else who is trying to navigate the area.

In my commute it isn’t riding on the 3 lane 35mph-but-everyone-goes-50mph road that I find the most harrowing. It is navigating past the two schools at pick-the-kids-up time. Those are the drivers paying no attention, who are impatient and aggressive. It drives me crazy. They are putting their kids’ friends in danger, and their kids’ friends’ parents are putting their kids in danger! Why don’t they get this?

Anyway, rant aside, I was thrilled to see these bike route school direction signs. I took a picture of just one, but there were more!

I didn’t even take a picture of the best part. The house that completely charmed me, complete with a significant garden in the front yard, had a person in that front yard tending the garden. I felt funny stopping to take a picture, though I doubt he’d have noticed. Still, there is tomorrow.

I will be riding this route again. In fact, if today is indicative of how this route will be normally, I think I have found a new permanent route.

Sometimes change works out really well.