Monday, May 17, 2010

My Monday Commute

Happy Bike to Work Week everyone! I hope you're having a great one.

I'd like to take a moment to tell you about my regular commute, because I love it.

First, the basics. From home to work, it's 12 miles, so 24 miles round trip. Each way takes me about 45 minutes--depending on the wind--which just happens to be the right amount of time to wake up and ease into the day. Happily, on the way home, that same 45 minutes is also the exact right amount of time to decompress from the day's work and to arrive home with a cleared mind and any residual stress gone. In between, it's a rich mixture of local neighborhoods, parks, busy city areas, roads, trails, suburbia, flats, hills (up and down), and wind (head and tail). It's always a little of everything.

Then there's the sights and sounds. Somehow every day I manage to ride by: a former Omaha mayor's house, a zen center, a roller coaster, a shooting range (complete with a sign on the trail warning, "Stay on the path. Shooting range ahead."), and a horse racetrack--to mention just a few of the landmarks.

And every day, I see something new or different or simply something I never noticed before. A few weeks ago, I saw two big snakes (bull snakes? What am I, a herpetologist?) sunning themselves on the Keystone Trail. They didn't even move as I rode past.

Today, I passed a middle-aged man with long blonde hair tied up in a braid running down the length of his back, sitting on a bench with his head in his hands, lost in thought. I also saw a teenage boy in a printed floral skirt. Or maybe it was a mumu.

This morning, while stopped at the light at the corner of Saddle Creek and Leavenworth, a woman pulled up behind me on her bike, and we gave each other that knowing cyclist head nod and said hi, sharing a moment of pedal camaraderie.

I ride through a neighborhood where the fenced-in backyards face the trail and many of the houses have decent-sized sheds or garages near the fence line. Almost without fail, these people take whatever random, sizable stuff they have--wheelbarrows, pickup truck toppers, cement mixers--and stash it between the shed or garage and the backyard fence. To them, it's stowing this unused yet potentially still need item out of sight--from their perspective from their house. But to me on the trail, it's like they're putting it front and center, on display for my enjoyment. And I appreciate it.

And as a native Omahan, every daily ride brings back memories. The drug store that I rode to on my kid's bike where I used to buy candy, that's not a drug store anymore. The parks where I grew up, and my dad before me, too. The house where the musicians lived and had a practice room in the basement, where I set up my drums and sat in with them a few times. The intersection where I got my first ticket driving a car--for not stopping at a stop sign. And not a few places I now like to frequent for food and drink on a regular basis with friends old and new.

So, I love my commute. Very few of my car commutes has ever impressed me, in the most direct sense of the word--as in leaving a mark--and yet so many of my bicycling commutes have. During this Bike To Work Week, what would you share about your commute?

Safe Rides!


Unknown said...

Sounds a lot like my commute, which is 11.5 miles each way and, luckily, almost entirely on the Keystone and Big Papio trails.

john said...

And here I thought my 8km commute was long. My commute is mainly along S 24th. Being a slow cyclist (staying mainly around 10-15 kph) my commute is about 35 minutes to work and 45-50 home. Even at those speeds I get to work faster than the bus can get me there.

Biker Bob/Runner Bob said...

On my bike commute to work today, I rode by several people on the Keystone trail. Most of whom I smiled and said "Good Morning" too and received a "Good Morning" in return.

Along the way I also enjoyed the various patches of fog and the variation in temperature that helped wake me up this morning. I rode past several soccer and baseball fields, that will likely be filled with happy kids during my ride home tonight. I also rode SLOWLY through a cemetery and enjoyed the smell of fresh cut grass. I don't remember the last time I smelled fresh cut grass while driving to work in my car.

When I ride to work, the best part of my day is my commute.

BlogDaCzech said...

My normal 11+ mile commute takes me along the West Papio and through Lake Zorinksi for the first 7 miles.

This morning I saw a pair of geese guarding 6 to 8 goslings along the shore of the lake. It's not uncommon for me to see deer, turkeys, or even a least weasel.

When I get to work after my commute I feel energized and more alert than drive commute days. I'm a much more productive contributor when I'm bike commuting.

AOJules said...

This morning I had scheduling issues, so I drove part way and rode the rest. The weather was so beautiful, a top 10 cycling day to be sure!

This afternoon I explored a new route home. I found a new route through the Trendwood neighborhood that mitigates the hills a little, and then decided to ride through the Boys Town campus instead of taking the 144th Street trail. It was gorgeous - MUCH prettier and enjoyable than my usual route (no offense, giant Millard North parking lot). I got back to my car and decided it was too nice to quit, so I rode the rest of the way back to Anna's school to pick her up, and then home with her.

Will be checking my teeth for bugs now as I think I was smiling the entire ride home! :)

Douglas said...

As I leave my neighborhood I'm greeted by the smell of wild flowers and dogwood blooms near Standing Bear Lake. As I continue on my way I'm entertained by rabbits, robins, geese, turkeys and an occasional deer. As I round the corner near Fort Street the sound of hundreds of frogs is a good way. As I get closer to 156th and West Maple the smell of fresh cooked donuts coming from the Hy-Vee store is overwhelming. Through another neighborhood where children wait for their school bus. Friendly waves all around. Continuing on down the West Papio where song birds sing various tunes for the next 5-miles. I exit into an industrial park that resembles a ghost town. Most shops aren't open yet, which keeps the streets quiet and empty. Depending on wind direction I can sometimes smell the aroma of bacon being cured as I approach the Millard area. There's no better way to begin a day than to watch the sunrise behind the handlebars of a bicycle.

Scott Redd said...

Since I moved to my apartment on the edge of the Gifford Park neighborhood, my commute downtown has gone from a hilly 5 miles each way to an almost flat 2 miles. Where I used to cruise along sleepy neighborhoods streets and through the misty greens of the Field Club country club, my commute now gets quick and urban in a hurry. Depending on what time I leave, I sometimes have to negotiate school buses in the neighborhood (attempting to trackstand while the crossing arm is extended) and yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks filled with Creighton students and staff along Burt Street. In no time I'm in Omaha's core business district, riding at the same speed as the cars around me looking for parking spots and entrances to parking garages.

On my way home, I sometimes merge with traffic right away and ride Farnam Street out of downtown and into Midtown Crossing. With all of the traffic calming measures put into place near Midtown Crossing, I can keep up with, and sometimes pass autos, even going uphill. I get a slight kick out riding uphill in the right lane passing people who are slowed or stopped in the left lane after having made a fuss to get around me a block or two back.

The spring weather has been so mild lately that I've enjoyed riding in my office clothes. Soon, though, the warm weather will come in and I'll be back to changing out to ride and showing at the office.

I have to admit, my proximity to work has caused me to ditch the bike and enjoy a nice walk to work on occasion. In either case, be it biking or walking, I've avoided driving my auto into downtown for almost two years, saving a ton of cash on parking.

T-bone said...

Mine was a little wet this morning but still fun:)