Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Dutiful Commuting

My bike commuting season is about to begin. This year I will have some good base mileage, because the cross-country ski season was so lousy.

The shortest route I can take requires just under 30 miles for the day. The more pleasant route is more like 32-33. That may not seem like much, but it turns into a time trial more often than not. A typical commuter, I'm usually running late on the way in. On the way home I just want to get there. It's really easy to fall into the half-fast overtraining pace.

When I was younger I would stretch the commute on some days, to make the 30 feel shorter. If you can't shorten your short ride, lengthen your long ones. But I want to do more with life than just ride, and I actually have one or two friends and loved ones with whom I'd like to spend time.

I consider commuting an expression of responsibility. I know I would ride no matter what. I have raced and toured. I liked to train because I liked to go out and ride. So if I'm spending the energy anyway, I might as well use it to make my part of the world a slightly better place.

I also hate driving. Actually, that's not quite true. I just hate most other drivers. I hate parking hassles. I hate the way car culture has sealed us into our little armored vehicles. But I love flinging my car through a nice set of turns.

Bicycling provides more opportunities to play with the vehicle than driving does. It also helps, rather than hurts, my physical condition. The same route over and over can get boring, but it's better on a bike than stuck in a car.

Before commuting season I get to ride some of the other roads around here. There are many miles of excellent cycling on either side of the Maine-New Hampshire border. The Cross Check is the perfect vehicle to explore them. I keep planning to find the time to fit in a few rides just for fun during commuting season. Maybe this year I will. But the commute comes first.

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