Monday, June 1, 2009

Onions, Heavy Rain and Traffic Snarls - What Could Be Better?

Last week, I had a super ride home. I always enjoy my rides, but this was extra good, because the weather and the traffic were really bad. Allow me to explain. Shortly before the end of my work day, thunder rolled and the skies opened up. A really nice woman in my office came by just as I was getting off the phone with my wife. She looked out the window and said, "so is your wife picking you up?" I said, "no way! I didn't build up my bike with full fenders only to miss out on a really good rain!" She noticed a bag of onions I had bought as part of a fundraiser (yes, onions) and said, "but how are you going to get those home?" I told her they would fit in one of my panniers, so all was well. Then, in her most motherly and caring voice, she said, "but you'll get wet onions!" I gave her a look, at which point she realized what she had said, turned, and walked away shaking her head. I started my ride in a great mood.

Now, I had promised my wife I could be home by 5, because she had an appointment and I needed to be home with the kids so she could make it. I had 25 minutes to make it home, which was fine because my shortest route takes about 20. It was raining hard, but warm. My bike was performing perfectly with its fenders, mud flap and truly waterproof panniers. I was pretty happy.

When I got onto the streets, I found that for some reason beyond the usual construction the traffic was horrible... which was great! In the videos that follow, you will hear my mental soundtrack as I rolled along. If my mental soundtrack sounds terribly corny or campy, it is because I have spent months re-training my brain to only use royalty-free music that won't get blocked or removed by video sharing web sites. Yes, I have given up playing good mind music for the sole purpose of creating honest online video. Pity me, because I really like good music.

Passing right by frustrating, time-wasting traffic jams is one of bicycle commuting's greatest pleasures... I was elated. North/South traffic was at a crawl on every major street. Here's the lineup heading South on Wellington at Grey St:

And on Carfrae, where I myself turned south, even more fun!

You know that van that I think was trying to pinch me? No word of a lie, as I snuck past him, my rear tire pinged a small stone off his hubcap as though my bike was ticked off too and had found a way to express itself. Never have so many small things come together to make riding in traffic so much fun.

I don't know how many cars I left behind on this particular ride. I do know that had I been in one, getting home by 5 as promised would have been utterly impossible. Most days, I can't quite keep up with cars. On that day, however, not only did being on a bike pay off in all the usual ways, but it got me home with one minute to spare. And, in case you were wondering, my Vidalias stayed perfectly dry.

Try it; You'll Like It.



ChipSeal said...

Really good post. Rantwick! What a delight!

The office conversation was priceless! Folks at work were always amazed that I rode on rainy days, and your response echos how I feel- I know being car-free will impose occasional hardships, so I see bad weather as a challenge.

Overcoming them is often the most gratifying part of the whole enterprise!

Being in Texas, I would often shame my co-workers when they would marvel at my cycling in the heat, by making some remark about how our ancestors traveled in covered wagons.

Apparently, when we get used to a commonplace way of doing things, we have trouble imagining any other way of doing it.

RANTWICK said...

Thanks Chipseal! I commute right through Canadian (although London is a cakewalk compared to most of Canada) winters, so riding in a warm rain truly is a pleasure. Texas heat, though; yikes. That would be a new sort of challenge for me.

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