The last time I biked to work, Bush 41 was in the White House. Hillary’s husband, who would come next, was still an obscure governor of a Southern backwater. It was the early 1990s and I was working for a large power company in Brunswick.
From my home in Durham, the ride took just over an hour. Luckily, my employer had a locker room with two showers. I developed a routine of bringing clothes to change into the day before and kept a few other supplies in a locker to dress for work.
Six weeks ago, I accepted a position with a local credit union. They have a branch in Topsham, 12 miles from my house. On my first day, during the tour, I noticed a downstairs locker room and shower. I said to the branch manager, “I’m going to have to bike into work some day.”
Today is finally “bike to work day.” I’m kind of excited. I’ve had to wait ‘til now for a number of reasons, including afternoon and early evening commitments that prevented me from being able to meander back home following work.
I had to do some thinking about it and some pre-planning. A week ago Saturday, I even pre-rode the route, which is a different one than the one I normally take in the car. It’s slightly longer (just over 16 miles). The bike route takes me through Brunswick, a bicycle-friendly community with a designated bike route. In essence, a bike-friendly designation provides a welcoming environment for people on bikes. This is accomplished through providing safe accommodations for bicycling and by encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation. It allows cyclists an environment that’s safe, comfortable, and convenient for all ages and abilities. Bike-friendly, or not, biking in traffic during rush-to-work time requires vigilance and some experience riding in traffic.
Yesterday, I brought my Friday wardrobe in, along with some supplies for showering. I even picked up some food after swimming, as I won’t be able to run out at lunch. Mainly, my goal was to keep from having to carry a heavy backpack. Now, I can ride in a similar vein to how I ride when I’m out training or doing a longer ride.
From Durham, I take the aptly-named Durham Road (past White’s Beach), cross Route 1 and pick up the route for bikes on Greenwood Road to Church Road. Then it’s down McKeen Street to Maine Street, around First Parish Church, a small jog on Bath Road to Federal Street and then, I make my way onto the Androscoggin River Bicycle and Pedestrian Path (via Water Street) until picking up the on-ramp to the Brunswick/Topsham Connector. This will be my busiest stretch. While I have a designated bike lane, I will also encounter heavy traffic whizzing by. There are also three traffic light intersections where I’ll have to make sure I properly navigate the lane so some idiot driver doesn’t cut me off. If you’ve ever ridden in traffic, you know how drivers feel entitled to all of the road, plus their sheer size and weight makes you under-matched on the back of your bike.
By the time you read this, I’ll have reached my destination barring some incident or accident. I’ll be showered and sitting at my desk, munching on a banana I brought to work, yesterday. I’ll be feeling good and looking forward to my return ride home this afternoon.
If all goes well, I may make this a weekly event and even up the frequency once umpiring winds down.