Trip Log – International Ride To Work Day 2009

This is the first year I get to show my support for 2-wheeled commuting, and I’m proud.  This is going to be kind of a rough one, because it’s my first ride on a dangerous interstate, the first where I am carrying a load (loaded backpack) and it’s going to be about 200 miles round-trip.  But that’s ok, because on Ride To Work Day, I’m going to be out with bunches of bikes and it’ll be safety in numbers.

So imagine my distress when I roar out onto the interstate at 75 mph and there’s no other bikes out there.  I counted two on the trip out and three on the way back.  That was a real disappointment.  But, I still remained focused on getting to work and back alive.

So first, riding at 75 is nothing like riding at 55.  I had heard stories that as a vehicle approaches 70, the wind resistance increases at an exponential rate.  This, I discovered first-hand.  It was extremely similar to my experience doing indoor skydiving, except instead of 15 minutes in the wind tunnel, it was an hour and a half.  I could not have done it without my CrampBuster.  Although my hand did get a little cramped anyway, the ride would have been impossible without being able to relax my grip occasionally.

So midway through the workday, clouds gather and thunder sounds.  No rain, though.  The storm just passed to the south of work.  I checked the radar before leaving work and saw I would pass between two strong storm cells on my route home.  More good luck.  And my luck continued until I reached the final waypoint.  I had travelled too fast and caught the tail end of the one cell.  Merging into traffic, things suddenly slowed down to about 30.  That either means there’s an accident or a downpour brought traffic to a halt ahead.  Noticing the shoulders of the road changing from wet, to puddles, to pools I guessed which one happened correctly.  I also relegated myself to getting drenched yet again.  And it happened.  A good 20 minutes of steady rain compounded by semi trucks passing by with their excessive road spray.  But still made it home in one piece.

Post-trip evaluation, I was soaked (nothing new there), my hands were numb (that’s new), and I was pretty exhausted.  I cleaned up and went out for dinner in the car.  After riding the bike exclusively for four days, the first thought I had when I pulled out of the driveway in the car was “This car is HUGE!”  And it looked huge.  The far corner of the hood looked like it was a mile away.  It felt huge.  It was like floating in a boat, where the motions I made on the steering wheel were disconnected and delayed.  It is unreal what a perceptional difference there was.

Riding the bike to work every day is completely impractical for me right now, but if I lived closer to work, it would be a easy decision.

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