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.
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.
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.
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.
The commitments make me start. The bike makes it easy to stop. I always start pedaling again.
- Mileage: 17.12
- Location: Seattle
- Bike: Zelda