Monday, May 11, 2009

Bike-to-Work Week - Day One

The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) has decreed that May is National Bike Month, and that this week (May 11-15) is National Bike-to-Work Week -- a red-letter week if ever there was one. It all culminates in that festival of festivals, Bike-to-Work Day, this Friday, May 15.

I am all a-twitter. When an organization with as much clout as the LAB gets behind something, I know that it is gonna be HUGE! I fully expect to be literally elbow-to-elbow with other people all this week as we abandon our gas-guzzling Earth-destroyers in favor of joyously pedaling to our jobs. It will be like living in a Regions Bank ad.

In honor of this truly auspicious occasion, I plan to ride my bicycle to work every day this week ... since it is Bike-to-Work Week. Okay, since I usually bike in at least twice a week that's probably not that big a deal, but this is my chance to mingle with millions of other two-wheeled travellers as they discover the joy that is bicycle commuting.

Today was the first day of Bike-to-Work Week. Here is my report ...

Leaving the 'Hood

On the way out of my neighborhood, I was just a little surprised to find myself the sole cyclist on the road. It was only 6:30 am, and we had some rain last night, so I suppose many of my new-found brethren may have opted for a later departure.

Cutting through another subdivision on my way to Edmondson Pike, however, I kept seeing cars instead of bikes. Maybe the overcast sky had scared these potential cyclists into driving in today, instead. Since so many of the cars were rather large, I am certain that these people are going to their local bike shop to get their rides ready for tomorrow's commute. They will probably be buying fenders, so that they can stay dry as they enjoy the festival that is Bike-to-Work Week.

On into Chenoweth, and over to Shenendoah Road, and I still haven't seen any other cyclists. I keep expecting friendly waves from the passing cars, as I am certain that they are lamenting that they couldn't be celebrating Bike-to-Work Week with me. Maybe the cool morning has scared them, as they had already put away their jackets and knee warmers for the year.

Bread Calls My Name

I went through Anandale, then down Cloverland to Old Hickory Blvd. I still did not see anyone else on a bicycle, although I did see a bike on the trunk rack of a passing car. And the silver BMW that followed me down Cloverland did not try to pass me at all as we came up to the light, so I am certain that the driver was celebrating Bike-to-Work Week in his own way ... a way that has a much larger carbon footprint.

Although I had hoped that all six lanes of Old Hickory Blvd would be full of cyclists by now, it was instead full of cars ... almost as if this were just any other day, rather than the first day of Bike-to-Work Week. When I got onto the busy road, however, many of the cars honked their support of me. Card-carrying members of the LAB, I am sure!

I stopped briefly at Panera, as usual. Although there were no other bicycles outside, and nobody inside was dressed in cycling clothes, I feel reasonably certain that the other patrons were about to mount up on their bikes and head in to their offices. Nobody asked me about good cycling roads from there, so they must have all done their research during the past few weeks. Bon route, fellow travellers!

Riding the Rails

As I rode up Franklin Pike Circle, I seemed to still hear cars on I-65. Although bicycles are not normally allowed on the interstate, it seems the LAB could get a special dispensation for Bike-to-Work Week. It was probably the wind in the trees, however, or a few cars headed to the local bike shop for inner tubes.

But then an Audi passed me in a blind curve, and there was a small pickup truck coming the other way. Fortunately, the truck pulled onto the shoulder -- otherwise, the Audi would have been forced to make the decision that all cyclists fear in these situations, as the driver chooses to either:
    a) hurt myself and others in the car with me as I have a head-on accident with another vehicle, or
    b) kill the cyclist by going back into my lane (NOTE: They rarely consider that it is actually the cyclist's lane)
This is not the kind of thing that I expect to happen on Bike-to-Work Week.

Nobody else came close to killing me on the rest of the way in. A fellow working in the rail yard that I cut through (next to Traveller's Rest) waved "hello" to me, and the guy at the counter in Walgreen's was very friendly. So maybe some people are celebrating Bike-to-Work Week ... just not in as big a way as I would have hoped.

Am I still going to bike in every day this week? Yes, but not just because it's Bike-to-Work Week. Frankly, I think that very few people out there really give a rat's ass.

I'm going to bike in every day this week for the same reason that I don't toss empty gel packets onto the road on fast centuries, and always signal turns even when there's nobody behind me. I'm going to bike in every day this week because the honeysuckle is blooming and it smells great. I'm going to bike in every day this week because it burns a few calories, so I can stop at Panera and get a scone to eat when I get to work. I'm going to bike in every day this week because I like to sweat, and I like to feel my quads burn as I spin like crazy trying to do 25 mph down Trousdale Road.

I don't care if nobody else celebrates Bike-to-Work Week. It's a holiday to me, and that's enough.

RandoBoy Update: On the way home, I saw two other cyclists. One of them had a backpack, so he may have been commuting. He yelled a "hello" to me, and that made my day.