I'm biking in to work. It's a beautiful day in May -- warm enough that I just need a light jacket for the ride in, which means that the temperature will be perfect for the afternoon ride home. The birds are singing, the bees are buzzing, and the dogs aren't chasing me. I'm on my usual route, about 6:30 in the morning, and I see the first vehicle of the day ... someone else going to work.
They're on a bike.
As I go on, I see more and more people riding their bikes to work, or to school, or to a dentist appointment, or to do some shopping. There are no cars, just people on bikes. We wave to each other, call out "Good mornings!" and smile, and nobody passes too closely or cuts anybody off or rings their handlebar bell in any way that could possibly be considered malicious or mean.
There are no cars on Old Hickory Boulevard, so I don't have to get on the sidewalk there as I head for Panera Bread and my breakfast scone. I ride on a real road, with only my fellow bicycles around me. We are laughing and riding our bikes and enjoying this incredible world in which we are all so fortunate to live.
Then, I go into work and I realize that I'm back in high school, taking the SATs, and I only have pens instead of Number 2 pencils. Oh, and I'm naked.
We've all had that dream, right? Or at least the first part? (For those that have had the second part, explain why I'm wearing clown shoes.) Well, we're only a couple of weeks away from the day on which that dream (again, only the first part) can come true ...
According to the League of American Bicyclists, May is National Bike Month, the week of May 17-21 is Bike-to-Work Week, and (logically enough) May 21 is Bike-to-Work Day.
What does this mean? Obviously, it means that you should, on May 21, talk like a pirate. Oh, wait. That's September 19. On May 21, you should ride your bicycle to work!
Now, I know that you have perfectly good excuses for not biking in to work. It's too far, or you have to wear a suit, or there's no place to put your bike, or your job requires that you drive door-to-door selling the Handy-Dandy Vacuum Cleaner. Last year, I gave you two blogs of ways to overcome most of these limitations. I can't do anything about that vacuum job, though, except to advise you not to sell one to Lucy Ricardo, over at 623 E. 68th Street. She's wacky!
Anyhow, since I've already told you how to plan your route and what you need to bike in to work, why aren't you already doing it? Obviously, it's because you need ...
- Google Maps is actually a pretty good start. It often doesn't know about multi-use trails or other available shortcuts, and it seems to think that just because a road has been named a Bike Route by the state of Tennessee it should be safe for bicycles (give the software developers a break -- they live in California). Also, it tends to put in a lot of extraneous turns as it tries to wind your way places without putting you on the larger roads. Nonetheless, the directions that it yields are better for cyclists that what you get out of plan old Google map directions.
- Go early. Sunrise on May 21 is 5:37 am, when there are barely any cars out there. Yeah, you'll probably get to work really early, but hopefully that means that you can leave work early. If not, you've burned the calories, so go get some breakfast. Just don't beat me to my Three-Seed Demi at Panera.
- Bring a friend. If you have a cycling friend that lives near you who works in the same area, ride in together. Two bikers are more visible than one, and the company will make things more fun.
At least that would fit on my bike.