Friday, May 30, 2008


May is National Bike to Work month, and I did my part a couple times. My house is almost exactly 16 miles from my office on my biking route (according to my bike computer), which takes me a little over an hour. Traffic lights can sometimes add 5 to 10 minutes. It's a long, boring ride, completely flat and almost completely straight. Four miles of it is on the Yolo Causeway, the elevated freeway that crosses the Yolo Basin, and the bike lane actually shares the roadway with the cars, separated only by a three-foot wall and a chain-link fence. Another long section is through West Sacramento, the land of semis, trailer parks, and rent-by-the-hour motels.

I pledged 120 miles for May, and as of today I will have done 107. So I just need 13 tomorrow to make my goal! I didn't actually bike 120 commuter miles, though. Loris and I did a 35-mile loop a couple weeks ago, and a lot of the rest is from running errands around Davis. I’ve actually only biked to work twice this month (that I remember).

For a year and a half, I actually rode the bus from Davis to Sacramento and back, every day. It added about an hour to my workday, but it gave me a lot of free time to read. It was fine, except for occasional days when it would add more than an hour to my day, when I would grit my teeth in frustration. The final straw came when the Tower Bridge into Sacramento, which is the usual bus route, was closed for construction. My commute was starting to regularly add two hours to my day instead of just one. Since I bake all of my own bread and grow my own vegetables, I just couldn’t afford to lose that extra hour. I started driving to work, and I never went back.

It’s funny how things in life often come full circle. For the next month, a portion of I-5 will be closed through Sacramento. I generally use this section of I-5, but it’s not essential to my route, and I can easily just drive a different way to work. Unfortunately, the impact of this construction is going to affect traffic throughout the area. I’ve even heard rumors that commuters should expect to add up to an hour to their commute. Like I said, I only go about 16 miles. An extra hour is just crazy. So now the plan, generally, is to bike to work in the morning, then schlep myself and my bike over to Amtrak for the 15-minute train ride back to Davis. I won’t be able to put it into action completely until July, because of the stupid rules for parking at my office – so update in July! Right before I leave for Italy!

I do all this inter-city riding on my bee-you-tee-ful Specialized road bike. What about my crappy bike? I still use it around Davis, and it comes in handy. The baskets fit a TON of stuff – backpack, books, groceries, veggies from the garden, climbing gear, etc. The main drawback is that it is really heavy. But it’s good exercise, right?

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