I left for work this morning at my “normal” time, at least normal according to when the dawn arrives. I didn’t reset my clocks because I wanted to get in earlier at work than usual, based on post-clock-changing clock-time. There is always something magical about early mornings, at least once I’m out on the bike. Prior to that is the usual hell of waking up and wanting to stay wrapped up and warm. Once I’m on the bike, though, the magic infects me.

The hushed sense of waiting, of time suspended. The fewer cars. The softening of detail. Being on the road extra early this morning meant there were even less cars than normal. The light cycles were shorter than normal. If this wasn’t such a damn early-rising town, if I didn’t have to get up at 3:30am to get that kind of ride, it would be my norm. It is seductive, these early morning hours.

I have just a quarter mile of MUP (mixed use path) riding on my commute. It is the among worst, in terms of conditions, and I can’t say it is either the ugliest or the most beautiful, but I think it is the most interesting. It follows a trickling stream, which is spanned by enormous arcing bridges. It is surreal, in some ways. Fantastical yet industrial. Or industrial yet fantastical. I still remember the first morning that a train went across one of those bridges as I navigated my way on that dark narrow trail. I about crashed, it startled me so badly!

So this morning, I stopped to take a picture. Low light, I knew it wasn’t going to be much of a picture, but I was hoping to capture something of the mood, of the essence, of that morning moment. And I feel like I did, once I mucked around in photoshop to make things visible.

Grainy and indistinct, it reminds me of those photos from the photographers in the 1800s. It is exactly what I was hoping for.


I did three days on the bike this week, and it felt great.

I really love commuting by bike, and it has made me feel better in so many ways. First of all, it’s just more fun than driving. Second of all, I’m getting in shape. I enjoy feeling strong and fit, and while you’d think that would be enough to ensure that I stay strong and fit, it isn’t. I go months at a time without really working out, and then I might go years where I maintain a pretty good level of fitness.

And then there are all the mental/emotional ways I feel better. I feel better about doing less harm to the earth. I am more relaxed, less stressed, and happier, even at work. I was talking to my therapist this week about how surprising it has been at what an intense difference the biking has made. We concluded that a big part of it was that when I’m on my bike, I’m living in the moment. It is a form of meditation, in many ways. And so I suddenly have almost 3 hours of meditation on the days I commute. No wonder I feel better!

I was also surprised at how quickly my recovery is improving. It is 14 miles each way, and I’m still pretty slow at it. (There are also a lot of lights.) I’m not worrying about how slow I am, even though I do have a goal of doing the commute in an hour or less. Right now I’m doing it in 1:15 – 1:20. And I’m okay with that, for now.

I rode on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I wanted to see how my legs would do with 2 days back to back. They did much better than I anticipated, especially given that I had a bike class on Wednesday evening that had us riding for at least an hour, and my legs were screaming. They were tired on Thursday, but actually improved throughout the day. On the ride home, I felt a little extra fatigue on the hills, but that was it. On Friday they felt only a little tired. I expected to be hurting, bad.

Tomorrow I’m riding with a friend. She’s a triathalete, but has promised to ride at whatever pace I want. We’ll be out in the country somewhere, with no traffic lights, but still plenty of hills. It will be interesting to see how that feels. And of course I’ll be riding to work again on Monday.

I have pushed myself throughout this beginning, but my body has repeatedly surprised me. I’ve got a lot more strength, and a lot more reserves than I was giving myself credit for.

And isn’t that true of us in life, in general?

One of the side benefits (or if my perspective was different, a main benefit) of biking to work is getting more fit. Healthier. And one of the side effects of more exercise for me has always been that I crave “real” food. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains. Nuts and seeds. As a former sugaholic, I find this good-food craving to be pretty cool. My body seems to know what is the best fuel, and makes sure that I’m craving the good stuff instead of the crash-and-burn stuff.


I was also craving cookies today. Craving them something fierce.

I had picked up a couple of Liz Lovelies at the store yesterday – partially, I admit, because Liz Lovelies were in the store! I’ve never seen that before, wasn’t even aware that stores (other than a couple online retailers) would be carrying them, so I wanted to support this phenomenon. (It makes a fantastic excuse, anyway.) Regardless of the reason, I now had two lovely cookies…at home. And so I thought about those cookies all day, and had to wait until I finished my 2nd ride of the day to have them. And then I waited until after dinner, and I had them with a small bowl of coconut nice cream

I have a feeling that supplementing my healthy diet with a bunch of cookies negates the health benefits of riding to work!

The good news is that cookies make me happy, and so does riding my bike to work. A match made in heaven.

My ride home was both good and bad in several respects. I got honked at a few times, but I also negotiated with a driver on a busy street and was able to get into the left turn and then the middle turn lane in time to actually make the left turn I needed. The traffic was fast and heavy, and a few cars chose to not let me into the left lane, so it was a pleasant relief when an SUV did let me in. It was also nice that I was making such good and immediate use of skills I’d learned last night in the bike safety class.

It was good in so many other ways as well. There was the fact that my legs were super tired when I first started out, but that they eventually lost most of the tiredness and moved me along at a pretty nice pace. There was the fact that even though I wasn’t sure I’d be able to face the biggest hills, I was able to get them done. There was the fact that I, again, rode in 1 hr and 20 minutes, despite legs that were already exhausted when I got on the bike!

It felt good. The honking, the ignorance of the people I’m sharing the road with…that was bugging me, yet not enough to diminish my grin as I arrived home. (And it wasn’t because I was in proximity of the cookies either!) The best I can explain it is that at the end of these 14 mile rides, I feel like I’ve been playing. It is a good way to start and end the day. Yesterday I had to drive to the bike safety class, and the traffic was horrible, and I have not been that cranky in a while. Yet I’m always on the verge of it, when I’m driving!

I was tempted to write a post about the rude, impatient, ignorant honking, but one of my new favorite blogs to read posted about the very same thing, and in a way that was way funnier than I could have ever managed, and he made all the points better than I could have while being entertaining enough that I was laughing out loud. So, read up about NYCBikeSnob’s commute this morning!

Last night I picked up a few essentials (rear blinkie, frame pump, handlebar bag), and attached it all to the bike.  I set the alarm for 4:30am.  4:30! Crazy, isn’t it? But I wanted to get to work around my normal time, and since I’m slow I knew I had to budget an hour and a half for the ride.  I wanted to be out of the house at 5am.  It also means less traffic to worry about.

I left 10 minutes later than I wanted, and I enjoyed every second of the ride. It took me an hour and 20 minutes (slower than I want, but faster than expected) and it was great. It was easy, despite the hills.  There was a certain amount of that special discomfort….I do need a different saddle.

I’ve been haunting the bike forums the past month or so, and one of the things the commuters often say is that work is the forced rest time between the morning and evening ride. 

I understand now, I do. 

I’ve never enjoyed the trip to work before. Today was fun. I arrived at work with a big grin. I’m looking forward to my trip home, to the ride itself. Tired legs and all.

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.