If you are looking for a little thrill in your life but can’t seem to escape the nine-to-five shackles, consider transforming the distance between home and office into your own personal adventure.
My friend Danny has been a project manager for some mega-corporations in the Atlanta metro. He is also an avid cyclist of both the mountain and road persuasions. Recently, he removed himself from the helm of his swank SUV, balancing instead atop two wheels for miles of thrills and chills before the workday began.
He recounts the tale of his first ride below. Enjoy!
If I could only change one aspect of my life, it would be my commute to work. I have tried a variety of vehicles — cars, motorcycles, SUVs — anything to make it better. Whatever I try, I still find myself miserable, sitting at a dead standstill on a road with a speed limit that is a laughable pipe dream during rush hour.
Four weeks ago I had an idea: what if I could find a relatively “safe” route and ride my bike 40 miles to and from work instead of drive. Each day as I idled on the freeway, the idea became more and more tempting. I could get a less frustrating commute and enjoy one of my favorite stress relievers – spending time on my bike!
There were several logistical hurdles, but the crowded roads and the insane Atlantans driving them were by far the biggest deterrent. I opted to take one variable out of the equation. I figured I could leave pre-dawn and get to work by 7am, before most roads clogged up. My hunch was correct: the roads were open, and with some good lighting on my bike, the pre-dawn drivers could see me without a problem.
As I quietly spun through the wee hours of the morning, I felt alive and aware of the communities through which I was sailing. Each neighborhood had a character that stood out in ways unnoticeable through the glare of a windshield. The nuance of sights, sounds, and smells invigorated my senses as I pedaled through a breathtaking mosaic of micropolises.
Colors seemed brighter, fragrances more dramatic, and I felt a palpable connection to each person I passed. The undulating ribbon of road swished persistently beneath my tires, interrupted only by deep breaths and hazy signals glowing bright red.
40 miles passed quickly, and I steered into the same office complex I turn into every day. But this time, I felt invigorated, rejuvenated, and full of life.
I am already looking for another opportunity to cycle to work again. But I confess my unease that the stakes are so high. Though most drivers were polite, one obstinate teen in a lifted 4×4 reminded me there is a frail side to all of this fun. He pushed his accelerator to the floor and yelled obscenities in an effort to remind me that roads were built for cars.
I tried to brush the haughty teen out of my mind, but the instance stayed with me. It is difficult to get past the nagging thought of an angry or oblivious driver all-too-easily terminating my ride, or perhaps even my life.
I’m anxious for the day when bike lanes are more common in our city. And I am hopeful that drivers will eventually learn to view cyclists not as space-invaders, but as road-sharers. Until then, I ride with caution — but I ride nevertheless.