Monday, December 22, 2008

back in black

I'm back to blogging, but I make no promises. I still need to learn silence. It may be that I will post infrequently, or perhaps not at all. Who can say? But it's not fair to the other bloggers who must put up with my inane comments, simply because I have nowhere else to speak for myself.

I expect the name of this blog to change. So far, it's the wittiest thing I've been able to come up with. In the time that I've been offline, we've moved to a new house in Elkridge, MD. Where before I could walk to the bus stop, now my commute is a bit more complicated. The nearest mass transit to DC and adjacent areas is the MARC (commuter train). The nearest station is about four miles away. So, I leave the house a little before 5:00, bike down US Rt. 1 to the Dorsey station, catch the train to Union Station in DC, then Metro back out to Bethesda where I work. I typically get to my desk around 7:00 and home around 5:30. My morning bike ride is pretty much always in darkness; these days, so is my evening ride. There's a spot on Rt. 103, as I approach the station, where I catch the street lights just right so my shadow stretches out beside me. There's almost no traffic at that point, and no serious hills. So it's just me racing my own shadow the last bit of the ride.

My commute says a lot about me:
  • I'm cheap--instead of buying a second car, I dropped $60 for a beat-up old 10-speed off of Craig's List, which I intend to ride year-round.
  • I'm stubborn--you have to have something to keep you going. Most of my ride is down Rt. 1, a major artery with speed limits ranging 45-50 mph, several good hills, and a general lack of shoulders. If you've seen someone biking that route, it was probably me--yellow raincoat, orange vest, flashing lights, and probably sucking wind on some hill.
  • I'm anti-automobile--did I mention that I'm not a serious cyclist? Before this, I hadn't ridden in something like twelve years, and that was a brief period after someone gave me a bike. I just can't come up with a cheaper mode of transportation that meets my needs, and now that I'm doing it, I can add the reason that "someone has to." I'm anxiously awaiting the death of the automobile, and in the meantime, anything I can do to remind drivers that they don't own the road is nothing short of a public service.
  • I'm conservationist--I don't get much of a high from the exercise, and the scenery is nothing to write home about. But I do get a great feeling from the knowledge that I've gone from point A to point B without burning a drop of fossil fuel.
So, when I'm out there racing my own shadow, it's a very defining moment. The day that I hang up my bike and start driving will also be defining, because it will mean that I've yielded to my wife's priorities (like me not getting mowed down by some oblivious driver).

Cycling also gives me something to write about, because it's still very much a learning experience. Like the other day, when I finally bothered to check the recommended air pressure on my tires and realized that I had them way underinflated. It was like finding a whole extra gear! Or the first time I realized how useless my brakes become in wet weather. Oh, and if you think I'm some kind of ironman for biking every day, rain or shine, I should point out that I only commute to work two days per week. The other three weekdays, I don't even put on pants until noon. (That might change once our office renovations are done, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.)

But this isn't a blog about cycling or commuting or anything else really. It's about me--whatever that entails.

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