Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Trail Note: the unintentional BRick

While I've been taking a couple of classes at the UW for almost a month now, yesterday was the first time that I commuted via bike. The bus is quite convenient, but until I matriculate and get my cheap student bus pass, the $1.25 each way fare adds up pretty quickly. And when you add up walking to the stop, waiting for the bus, the actual ride, and the walk from the stop to class, it takes about half the time to bike (15 - 20 minutes vs. 30+, depending on timing).

It's been almost 6 years since I regularly commuted via bike. There's a large barrier to getting started: having the right bike configuration (water bottles, lights, saddle bags, chain that's not all rusted out, etc.), knowing what to wear (bike in clothes I'd wear to class? bring things to change?), figuring out the best route (I raced buses yesterday), and knowing the timing (note for future: allow enough time for the Freemont bridge to open and close). Once a routine is established, however, it's the best way to get to work / school. There are no worries about parking or traffic, no bus schedules to remember, and no long walks from car or bus: the bike rack is right outside my classroom. And it's fun!

Another great thing about the bike commute is the extra, almost accidental, workout. As I've probably mentioned many times, I live on a 13% grade hill, almost 400 ft up, so any bike ride home ends with a tough climb. After my ride yesterday, I went for a short run around the block. Normally an easy run, yesterday every little incline felt like a mountain, my calves burned, and my quads complained. It felt a little like the running portion of a triathlon. No longer will I ignore the impacts of the bike commute. From now on, inspired by a recent article in Runners' World, I'm counting those bike miles in my running plan.


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