Apr 112019

30 Days of Biking is obviously a commitment. I realized today when somebody asked me how it was going that riding my e-bike to work results in another kind of commitment: Riding home.

When I ride the Sweetie Bike or Tessa the Folding Bike, if I don’t feel like riding home at the end of the day I throw the bike on the bus and let transit serve as my escalator up the hills. When I decide in the morning that I’m going to take Zelda, I am also committing to a round trip by bike.

This is because I don’t yet know for sure that the bike rack on the bus could support Zelda’s weight. I can check some specifications and it might be fine, sure. But that’s not a chance I’m willing to take until and unless I do that research. So when I leave the house in the morning on Zelda, I know that I will be coming home at the end of the day on Zelda. I knew I would put in more miles on an e-bike — I just hadn’t realized this particular aspect that would ensure I do.

White woman standing with peach-colored e-bike at the foot of stairs with a white railing. Bike has light blue and silver bag on the front. woman wearing black jacket, black rain skirt, black boots, scarf with a few bronze leaves on it around her next. Short blonde hair, blue glasses, head tilted to her right, smiling, holding bike helmet, hand outstretched to hold the bike's handlebars. rock wall visible behind at right.

Today’s commitment to that extra mileage had the rain bonus that Seattle springs give me. No question about it — rain skirt went on before I left the driveway. The light misty rain didn’t bother me but the air felt pretty chilly. At about a mile into the ride I decided the removal of the knitted strap cover from my bike helmet had been a premature celebration of spring weather, and I stopped and put it back on the helmet to keep my ears warm.

This brief break, during which I also threw on my rain jacket, blew my nose, and had a drink of coffee before getting back on the bike reminded me of another of the often unspoken benefits of bicycling: How easy it is to stop for a few seconds. (And here you thought “stopping” in the title was about giving up on 30 Days of Biking.)

I can take five or ten seconds to do so many things when I stop on my bike that would be unsafe or illegal if I were behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. I take a picture, I cue up a new podcast to listen to, I stare deep into the bottom of my bag and dig around to find a handkerchief that isn’t where I thought I left it, I pull up my calendar to double-check the starting time of that phone meeting.

It’s really never impossible to stop on my bike. I just look back to make sure there’s nobody back there and I stop. I think of all those family vacations when I was a kid with my dad barreling down the highway and me asking if he would stop for a minute because I wanted to take a picture of some pretty flowers. Never happened. My dad’s driving was all about making good time to the next campground.

Peach-colored electric bike parked on a trail with a river and trees in the background. Blue and silver bag on the front handlebars, black bag on the back rack. It's spring and trees are leafing out.

Along the Duwamish River this morning I stopped to admire the small ferns greening up the bank, the multi-colored lichen on some fallen branches, and the peaceful flowing water. Then I pedaled on. So many beautiful things to see, and so easy to stop for 10 seconds, rest in that moment and pay attention, and take a picture or two.

Close-up of green ferns, with dry brown and red leaves from last autumn underneath.
Close-up of bright yellow-green and medium green lichen growing on a branch, with dry brown and red leaves from last autumn underneath the branch and a small fern at the bottom of the image.

Back to that commitment to bike the round trip — I lucked out. Typical Seattle weather meant my willingness to ride between the raindrops in the morning was rewarded with mild weather on the way home.

As always when passing a bike counter, I made sure the number changed as I rode past the detector on the West Seattle Bridge. If I’m approaching a counter with another rider coming up behind me I also make sure we have a gap between us so the counter can pick up each data point. Such a transportation nerd.

Long shot of the West Seattle Bridge at dusk from the walk/bike path. bike counter at left displays 560. Power poles stretching off to the right, lights glowing along the right side of the trail on the wall.  Bottom right, front half of peach e-bike visible with large blue and silver bag on front handlebars.

The commitments make me start. The bike makes it easy to stop. I always start pedaling again.

  • Mileage: 17.12
  • Location: Seattle
  • Bike: Zelda
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