Jul 23, 2009

Breaking Through

Maybe it was the ultra-bad transit experience in the rain on Tuesday, maybe it's the additive miles, or maybe it's just familiarity that comes with repeated effort, but for whatever the reason, I feel like I passed through a threshold of some sort this week. For the first time, I feel like riding the bike is the fastest and easiest way to and from the office.

Getting here was part of my motivation for turning in my parking pass in March. My goal was to make riding the easy option, and now (finally) it seems like I made that goal. I have no trouble with the distance, my speed is good (at least good enough for me) and I have the packing/changing routine down cold. Partly it's experience, but partly it's gear.

One of my goals for this cycling season was to make biking an after thought; no need to think about it or dress for it. I have accordingly moved from traditional bike shorts to either knickers (rock climbing pants, specifically) or baggy nylon shorts over boxer briefs. This is a great combo, and for the distance of my commute more than adequate. In fact, I have dressed like this on longer rides with no... ill effects whatsoever. I also scored a pair of Keen SPD sandals this year, and that's been a very nice addition. Make the ride attire much more street friendly and the Keen's are the most comfortable bike specific shoes I've ever had.

We'll see what happens when the weather turns cold and days get short. I am generally afraid of riding Park/Portland in winter - the streets narrow and the speeds don't decrease, and the thought of getting hit from behind does not appeal to me at all. Chicago Ave. might be an option, but I am also a little concerned about the cold and the wet. One step at a time, though.


  1. It might be a little out of the way but what about the LRT trail?

  2. The city is pretty good about plowing out bike lanes and if a fresh snow fall is causing grief, just use a side street. I typically take Oakland anyway as I'm just in tune with timing of the lights on Park -- that is, I hit every red one on the way into town.

  3. Nicole - The LRT trail is a little out of the way, but I really like it for leaving downtown. If I have errands I will take it because it goes by Freewheel, The Hub, Target, etc. I will also take this if I want to slightly increase my distance on the way home. I have not tried on the way in except for the Bike/Walk week free breakfast tour back in May. It might be an option.

    Yam - I have looked at Oakland a lot as I cross it coming off Portland and heading east on the way hom. That is probably the shortest distance option. It also has the advantage of being a very familiar route. I will need to get some lights on my Marin MTB to get it winter ready, but otherwise that will be my game plan to start.

    Thanks for the tips!

  4. Try Chicago. I have been taking that to your place for the weekly pick up. I really like it a lot better than Portland or Park. Also, you can always stop by on the way home if you need to :)

  5. Yam - I rode Oakland this morning and found it to be a little slower due to the stop signs, but quite pleasant. Thank for the tip!

    Shishi - I have never really considered Chicago Ave., but I'll give it a go and see what I think. for some reason it's not really been on my map, other than as the last barrier to the express way that is Park Ave. Nice to know I have safe harbor at your place if needed. Maybe I'll pack some jammies and slippers!