Thursday, January 10, 2008

The big muddy

I’m nearing the midway-point on my attempt to ride my bike to work right through the winter. So far, I’ve only had to give it up for two days after we got dumped on with snow, and there’s only been a couple of times where I’ve been so cold as to wish myself dead, and at least one of those was due to a poorly thought out decision to wear kid gloves on the coldest day of the year. When your fingertips are in such pain that you want to puke, it’s time to re-think strategy.

So far, it’s been shockingly easy. I find most rides actually relaxing, despite the numerous near-misses and constant four-wheel bullying. (It’s been interesting to see just how long it takes to turn a person into a wild-eyed cycling militant – about three minutes, usually.)

The greatest boon is simply not having to sit on the subway for 45 minutes at the end of the day. I don’t mind the streetcar in the morning – in fact I like it, and kind of miss it – but I find that, on the subway rush home, without a seat or even any space around you, you have to put your mind on idle just so you don’t go nuts with the thought that you’ll be standing there, desperately trying to hold onto a strap, while everybody steams and drips up against you, for the better part of an hour. It’s not plebe-fear – though the occasional vocal crackhead tests my mushy liberal nerves, and any group of teenagers ignites my inner Andy Rooney – but simple frustration at so much mental dead time. I’d happily put up with anything if I could at least sit and read. I get off the subway more exhausted than I ever am biking home.

Plus, on a bike you’re somewhat more in control of your own destiny, even if it is your destiny to be killed by a commuter in a Honda Civic happily distracted by Jack FM and coffee in a spill-proof mug.

And, you get the little bonuses. For example, this morning I ran over a dead rat. So I guess I can strike that one off my bucket list.

(That's my backpack in the photo above, by the by.)


patricia said...

Ha. Love this.

Working at home means I don't ride the subway very often, so when I do, I'm suddenly reminded as to why I hated commuting back when I had an office job downtown. I've lost a lot of my patience and understanding for commuter folk, so when I encounter smelly or rude people on the TTC, I tend to get pretty darn surly. This is also due to the fact that I've never had the opportunity to run over a dead rat.

Can't wait to read your book.

Anonymous said...

ummm... "not plebe-fear" but the "mental dead time" are you sure you are not a snob?
just curious but what kind of parents did/do you have? I mean are they teachers or like plumbers?

nathan said...

Never said I wasn't a snob, brave brave Anonymous.