Yesterday, I commuted in to work by bike again. This time, however, it was for real.
You see, when I went in a couple of weeks ago I was able to work from home earlier that day, so that it was almost 9 am before I got to the busier roads. This time, I left the house just before 7 am, trying to get in to the office in time to get a bunch of work done and still get home before dark.
It made a difference.
This was no surprise -- it's called "rush hour" for a reason, after all -- but what was surprising was how many cars kept creeping into my bike lane. You would think that they wouldn't need any of my five feet of asphalt, but it seems that Cadillac Esplanades become unstable over 50 mph and have difficulty holding their line.
I tried to take a picture of one of these vehicles dipping a wheel into my should-be calmer waters, but it's difficult to do that while riding a bike ... particularly when you're trying to stay on the right edge of what was a rather thin strip to begin with. Here's the best that I could get, when a big truck pulling a trailer weaved past on Hillsboro Road:
Hmmm ... maybe I had the camera pointed the wrong way.
On the 10-mile stretch up and back in the bike lane on Hillsboro Road, I yelled the same phrase at cars so often that I shortened it to an acronym: GOOMBL. It stands for, "Get Out Of My Bike Lane."
And I decided that part of the problem is that it really is MY bike lane.
There weren't any other bikes out when I left for work, of course. It was cold and early, and although there are lots of cyclists in Franklin, most of them are not that kind of cyclist. I quickly got over to Hillsboro Road to the bike lane, mostly because the rising sun and early traffic made it the safest place for me to ride.
About 20 chilly miles later, I wended my way past the traffic near Green Hills and over to Lipscomb, and then up to Belmont University. At this point, I started to see other cyclists -- college students and urban dwellers for whom a two- or three-mile commute to class, work, or shopping was a daily thing. There were even more of them out when I started back home about 3 pm, when the temperatures had risen to the low 60's. We waved to each other and called out cherry "hellos" as I cut through neighborhoods back down to Green Hills and Hillsboro Road.
And then, I was alone. Just me and a bunch of cars. I felt like a first-grader who had mistakenly gotten onto a bus full of high schoolers, heading home to the tough side of town.
Another 10 tense miles and I was back in Franklin, turning on to quieter roads. I saw other cyclists there, apparently trying to get in an afternoon workout. A couple of them waved, but most were keeping a close eye on their bike computers to ensure that their wattage remained high enough. They were on Del Rio and Boyd Mill Pikes -- back roads that don't need a bike lane.
I understand, of course. My commute to work and back is over 50 miles, and most cyclists don't have the time to do that on any kind of regular basis. Most of them don't have the calluses on their taints for it, either ... although they would if they just did it.
But I would like a little more company for my misery, and a few more bikes might keep the cars out of my -- er, our -- lane.