Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Commuter Train

What's the perfect bike commute? Must meet one’s own criteria for convenience, distance, health, schedule, terrain, and weather. Long have met own challenge, “Bike there instead of drive, if and when you can.” Those who take pride in propelling self would be remiss not to ride every dry day ≤3 miles each way, 3 days a week for ≤10 miles, and, say, minimally once weekly ≥15 miles. Comfortable cripples disagree, consider it likely to cause distress, and rather drive. Avid cyclists, annoyed at having to dress for less, often skip a 20 mile round trip as if preposterous excess. That’s only 100 miles per typical workweek. An example of whom to speak, Sam Bennett, Lanterne Rouge of 2016 Tour de France, covered >500/week for a month. Sure, bicycle sensible attire does not equal business casual. Have to bathe and change upon arrival, it’s true, but shouldn't let inconveniences deter you. There are always ways to extend routes and vary routine. Adapting to a different scene and new styles expands your mind. Rainy days address lawn duress, and are for swapping out odorous duds for laundress. Why not find advantages in all this logistical planning and physical training which prepare you for charity rides and criterium trials?

In latest role, commute climbs outbound with fresh legs in quiet dark on empty streets usually without slowing wind. Mentally replay folk tunes from youth by Bob, Mary, Paul, Pete, and Peter, Early Morning Rain. Suits introspective mood of an hour of slow slog begun in gloom that morphs into cool glow before sun eventually gains horizon. Begin amidst left over damp and miasma rising and steaming from morning sewers, but end with ducks preening on a golden serene pond. They say, “The darkest hour is before dawn,” to offer hope to anyone beset or deep in debt and each institutional resident, but it seems more like the best time to bike and least likely hour to encounter evildoers, though mostly notice crackheads, early risers racing to lousy jobs, and truckers abusing noisy beasts that probably wouldn’t pass mandatory inspection. Emperor Wu, who marches around his bistro, greets all alike including you. Teen cheerleaders waiting for their school bus sometimes urge, “Go, go, go,” as you fly past. Afternoons don sport headphones and sunglasses and roll downhill, enjoying prevailing tailwinds, along a motor free bike path to heavy metal, rap, and rock, "Run to You," referring to those at home preparing for a meal together. Return with tail tucked in after having been drained, but never complained, blessed amidst so many still unemployed due to domestic policy neglect. Bicycling boosts mood and leaves belligerence along roadside, or so the faithful have always confessed.

Bicycling invites in nature after spending long days in climate control. Concerned over EEE, Lyme Disease, West Nile Virus, or Zika? Bugs don’t usually bite or even alight when you’re cruising by bike. Did get stung by a pesky bee while trying to scratch an itch, inhaled some swarming gnats or midges, noticed jersey flecked with creature specks, but seldom worry even after swallowing a fly. Will someday surely die, but not because of it. Does choosing sensuality and embracing uncertainty elevate or reduce stress? Some thrive best when things are a mess. Seldom do anything twice exactly the same way, since conditions continuously vary. Change exercises reason, fosters tolerance, and increases understanding. Battle hardens combatants. When you face fears, probe boundaries, and survive, you grow immune to those who dare to impugn your transportation preference and ignore who’s jejune. When poor planning forgets bulk of contingencies, biking and brainpower both belong as remedies.

Do witness frightful behaviors. Beyond angry dogs, loitering gangs, soliciting whores, and staggering drunks, witnessed a guy brandishing a handgun threatening a sweatily defiant foe. He clearly warned, “It only takes one shot,” while retreating target gave him the double-barreled finger; okay, not exactly an OK Corral showdown, more resembled mayhem Lily Allen describes in her song LDN. Hugged base of wall to avoid catching lead in a likely miss and winding up as collateral damage. About all you can say about those who slash, steal, and want to see the world burn is they are the plague to avoid. Such situations seduce driving in rather than letting world in by pedaling. Vulnerable by bike, you doubt any attempt to oppress but notice more beauty and ugliness than motorists. Admit being fearful leaving home in black of night so exposed. Bright lights don't minimize hazards or reveal benevolence of a stranger cloaked in shadows. You can hardly see real menace of debris and potholes to your wheel, yet that too slows pace so reduces danger.

Afternoons harbor traffic havoc. Can hardly hear hiss and slap of trailing motor vehicle tires that bark their aggressive presence. Truckers rather meet a schedule than preserve a life. Car drivers at stop signs curse you as you pass intersections at 12 mph for an elapsed 2 seconds, yet they'd be content to wait 6 seconds for a tractor trailer to pass. They deem commercial trucking more important than whatever a cyclist might be doing, which might be traveling to conduct billions in commerce. Post ride you may be haunted by mood slumps after elation from endorphins and oxygen, and woozy feeling of gliding along, around, down and up that sometimes grips you when you're not riding. These frights soon pass.

Fear can literally kill you. By choosing an allegedly safe automotive shell, you invite a hell of a lot more highway threats against your life from impatient drivers desperate to slam into you in their conditioned response to be first, cut you off, and go fast to nowhere. By car, you’re death bait, downright anesthetized, dried like jerky, driven insane too much, vacuum packed, and woefully out of touch. Today's passenger car only seems like an extension of your parlor recliner. Always sitting, even while speeding through space, is as deadly as shooting or smoking. Stress itself debilitates. Bending to doubts limits your chances to derive biking’s benefits. Dark and light further highlight balance and lurch, blaze and smolder, calm and panic, yin and yang of bicycling, things that terrify those who run in routine ruts. Contented, tame, undisturbed cattle can be effectively bilked or milked. Nervous rabble seek abated anxiety and cool comfort. Being bright, enthusiastic and proactive intimidates mushrooms, nipple suckers, parasites, and vegetables. So hide your habits, or make little of them, lest they try to single you out from herd as an example to sacrifice.

Commuting by bike can trigger trains of thought that serve as sources for new blog entries. It’s the cycle of life, what goes through this cyclist’s mind on repeated circuits to daily destinations, meditations on life’s meaning. After driving over 500,000 miles then bicycling its hourly equivalent of 125,000 miles, collected myriad comparative insights from which to build Bike&Chain. Blog entries since raised them to a reliable level. Could focus on one point and make a case about it with gathered facts, as would any forensic or scientific investigator. Would only deprive readers and spoil fun. But if this were an appeal to get your butt onto a saddle, it wouldn’t have relayed recent agonies or waited until you already hung up equipment for winter storage. But internet blogs are global. Your local conditions may vary. It’s a brand new cycling season below equator. Tropics aren’t affected by daylight saving topics.

Midway through November, days here become too short to provide optimal visibility for already distracted and impaired motorists, who increasingly need their cars to decide when to stop for them. They used to joke about drivers so inept that cars drove them, yet driverless vehicles occupy horizon and worry bicyclists probably forgotten by this development.

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