Thursday, January 24, 2013

Getting Away with Something

One of the things that I haven't really done since returning to Tennessee is ride my bike to work ... at least, to actually do work at work. In November, I took the new bike lane on Hillsboro Road into downtown Nashville and up to my office there, but didn't go in. That trip was all about playing in a new bike lane, seeing how far my commute would be, and enjoying good weather.

Wednesday, I actually biked to work ... and then I worked.

Of course, I used to do this a lot. Before we moved to Florida, I had a nice 12.5-mile route from my house that included a stop for coffee, and I did that at least once a week in 2011 ... even when it was so cold that black ice was all over the roadway and I had a crash that basically killed endurance cycling for me for the next 12 months.

Even with that crash, I've always loved riding a bike to work. Part of this is because it's a good workout -- you can't hammer with panniers, so the ride stays nice slow distance with just the right heart rate and level of muscle strain. Another great thing is the statement you make to cars. You like to think that they see you out there and think, "Wow. There is a better way to get around. I should do that." Of course, they're probably thinking, "Wow. What a shmuck. Glad I'm in here on my plush heated leather seats."

The best thing, however, is that I feel like I'm getting away with something. I'm still going to work, just like everybody else, and yeah it's going to take me at least twice as long as it would in a car, and I could have just driven in and out and maybe gotten home early enough to jump on the bike for those extra hours ... but I didn't. Instead, I managed to slip an extra ride into my busy day ... it's like putting one over on the universe.

I had recently stripped the front rack and a few other things off of the Salsa, thus converting it back from touring rig to commuter rig. With one pannier full of office clothes and my laptop in the other, I headed towards Franklin on Boyd Mill Road, and then cut over to Del Rio Pike and Hillsboro Road. The bike lane on Hillsboro takes you to Green Hills Mall, and from there I cut over to go by Lipscomb University, up through Belmont, down Music Row to Demonbreun, and then past Bridgestone Arena to my office.

In spite of being a 28-mile ride with lots of lights and stops, it took me less than two hours. I had plenty of time to change clothes, eat lunch, and prep for my afternoon meeting.

My meeting ended about 2:30, and I quickly wrapped things up to get out by 3 pm. My reasoning was that, although I had been able to get up here in less than two hours, it might take me longer to go home. Also, traffic would be worse as the afternoon waned.

So it was not until I started up the hill past the arena again that I realized there was wind out there.

A cyclist with a light tailwind is like a first-timer in Vegas having a good run at the craps table -- you never realize what you had until it suddenly disappears.

The wind wasn't bad, but it was in my face all the way down Hillsboro Road. It wasn't helped by the fact that cars were now constantly zipping past, at first full of folks trying to beat rush hour, and then with the actual rush hour constituents themselves. All in all, it was not as pleasant a ride back down to Franklin as the trip up had been.

But it was still a bike ride, and that made it pretty darned good.

I stopped at the grocery store about five miles from home and picked up a couple of things. Had I been out there another 15 minutes, I would have needed to turn on my tail-light ... 15 minutes beyond that, the head-light would have come on.

Fortunately, as the sun went down so did the wind. I pulled into my driveway just as the sky began to shift towards that glorious burnt umber that you only get this time of year. Wheeling the bike into the garage, I smiled thinking, "Yep ... I got away with it again."