Bicycle Commuting in Salt Lake

Eating Concrete

I was flying.

The workday was over, the weather was perfect, and the bike was grooving. Pearl Jam’s “Alive (Detroit, 2014)” opening riff growled in my earbuds as I dashed across 900 West. I just crushed the Jordan River Parkway at top speeds, and I was in attack mode. In two days, my company’s annual convention was going to start, and I was ready. All of my projects were either done or ready to go live. All I had to do was slap on my award-winning smile, take a few thousand pictures, and shake a ton of hands.

Little did I know my hubris was about to catch up with me. I was seconds away from putting my thumb straight into God’s eye.

Crossing 900 West, I dug in. Speed was critical. I needed to cross the busy street. It’s been years since I’ve ridden a bike aggressively. Even though I was loaded up with everything I needed for convention (computer, water bottles, notebooks, spare clothes, lunch pail, my Nikon), I still thought I had the hops to clear a curb.

I was wrong.

My front wheel didn’t even come close to clearing the curb. It slid like a block of ice on the hard concrete. In the blink of an eye, I went from rocking out to Mike McCready’s devastating guitar solo to being devastated as I crashed onto the sidewalk. My right arm hit first, scrapping clean along the ground. My right knee was next, skinned from thigh to shin. The weight of my entire body landed on my soon-to-be-gone car keys, leaving a Mt. Vesuvius technicolor bruise, firm like an unripen peach.

And I slid.

For a good four feet, I slid across the sidewalk. I’m 45 years old and I just took a hit reserved for much younger men. Eddie Veddar was still yelling that “I’m still alive” as I tugged out my earbuds and forced myself to stand up. I was a wreck. Everything hurt. I could feel the contusions forming as I stared at my untouched bicycle. Looking down, blood pulsating from my hand. It was coming from my left pinky finger. How did I manage to crush my left fingertip off when my right side looked like hamburger? And how in the world did my bike escape any damage? Even more important, how the hell did I get myself into this situation?

The answer is very simple and equally unsatisfying: I decided to sell my car and start riding a bike to work.

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Your Loss, Losers!

Let’s get something straight: I’m a damn good driver.

My credit rating might be in the toilet, but my driving record is impeccable. In the last 20 years, I’ve been cited only once for speeding. And frankly, if you were in my headspace, you would have been pulled over as well. That’s the time I thought my wife hired me a stripper-gram dressed as a cop when I got pulled over just outside Wellington, Utah. It turns out this very attractive man was just a super-hot highway patrolman who caught me speeding.

Won’t happen again, Sexy Copper!

I have good eye-hand coordination and excellent depth perception. My reflexes have been compared to an osprey or Kurt Russell. I move like a puma or a black mamba—no wasted energy, all focus. With the exception of parallel parking and backing up with a trailer, I’m the second-coming of Richard Petty. So, to retire the car and commit to the bike is a collective loss to Utah’s cultural record and humanity at large.

Salt Lake was a better place with me behind the wheel.

But those days are now behind me. I’m a cyclist, a bike man. I’ve got chain grease for blood and green goo in my tubes. I ride with a backpack filled with tools and anything else I might need getting around town. I’ve got water bottles everywhere, expensive flashlights, and a pair of fingerless gloves with calloused-like pads on the palms. I’m reading the weather report before the baseball box scores and I have very strong opinions about disk versus rim brakes.

Even worse, I’ve finding myself quietly judging you petro-slaves chained inside your car cages. You’re putting 2.2 pounds of CO2into the atmosphere for every mile driven. I’m only releasing 0.7 grams only through perspiration. And you better believe I’m sweating like a God damn beast as I power my way through the Salt Lake Valley. I sweat like Louis Armstrong plays the trumpet or Nadia Comâneci tumbles a floor exercise.

King Kong ain’t got nothing on me!

And if you believe that, you’d know I’m way too self-conscious and pitch aware of my hypocrisy to openly condemn folks for driving. I’ve been driving since I was 15. That’s 30 years on the road, burning rubber and gas, pumping out exhaust and littering more than I’d like to admit. My family drove from Las Vegas to San Diego more times than I can count in a van with single digit gas mileage, and I am guilty of aimlessly cruising every town I’ve lived in.

But let’s be honest: cars are convenient, fun, and cool—Steve McQueen cool. It’s super awesome to be able to run up to the grocery store if you forget something or drive up to the ski resorts. Having an automobile takes the guesswork about leaving in the morning and wondering how in the world you’re ever going to get home. And cars are a great place to neck. It’s been my experience you want some privacy when you’re sucking face, and making out on a bus rarely allows you to round second base. 

Switching to a bike diet has been a challenge.

It’s been tough but it’s very doable. Over the last two months I’ve learned about the benefits and downfalls of bike commuting in Salt Lake City. There’s been scratches, falls, near collisions with school buses, German shepherd pursuits, ritualistic animal slaughters, and countless goat heads. It’s literally beaten the hell out of my butt. I’ve smashed my elbow, nearly been decapitated, and froze my tuchusoff. But I’m tougher and a little more resolved. Through the ups and downs, I’m certain dumping the car and getting on the bike has been the right decision.

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The Plan

I don’t know why my wife and I don’t have enough money.

We live on a decent budget. We’re more often than not eating at home, we rarely go out, and we have relatively simple taste. Oh, yeah, we also have four jobs between the two of us. But somehow, we magically accrued some silly debts. Most notably, we owed a heck of a lot more in taxes than we did the year before.

There was a long look at the family budget searching for things to cut. Subscriptions services were cancelled, and bulk grocery trips became the norm. Even the beloved liquor expense was scaled back. But before we did something stupid like getting rid of cable or selling the dogs, we circled the car payments. Why were we paying two car payments? We “owned” two Subarus, a 2015 and 2016 Outback. Both were excellent vehicles with low mileage. The problem was they were relatively expensive. Scratch that, owning two cars cost a lot of money.

Every month, we were forced to come up with $450 for the 2015 and $550 for the 2016. Not only that, I was on the hook for about a hundred bucks every month for car insurance. Tack on $40–65 a month for gas and it quickly became apparent owning two vehicles was bleeding us dry. $1,200 a month for the “privilege” of owning two cars quickly didn’t feel like a privilege.

Could we become a one car family? It was definitely a sexy idea when you consider how much we were spending on cars, but practically, it was a little more challenging. I work out in West Valley City at the Pill Mill. Without traffic, car accidents, weather or any other countless obstacles, the 8-mile drive takes about 20-minutes. Plus, two nights a week, I leave the Pill Mill and go downtown to pour drinks at Keys On Main.

Lesser men would have said my problem didn’t have a solution. But I am not a lesser man. In the spirit of Major Taylor, I was committed to cracking this code. I put on a pot of coffee, got one of those green accountant visors and opened my computer. In about a minute I had everything I needed. And you thought the internet was only for Netflix and PornHub.

The plan was extremely simple: pull the proverbial trigger, sell the cars, get a new vehicle to share, and start riding the damn bike.

We took both cars to the dealership, sold them back, and picked up a new 2019 Subaru Outback on a leasing program. The terms were fantastic. $381 a month for three years. This includes all normal maintenance, oil changes and free car washes. Not only does this car have all the bells and whistles, it drives really nice and looks cool. Esthetics are important. The best part of the program is we can trade in the new car for an even newer car after 24 months.

Breaking down the cost of our lease, we’re paying $12 a day to have access to a car, plus fuel and insurance. That’s a fair price to have access to a car. My wife can take the car on Monday through Thursday, and I’ll have access to it on Fridays. Before making this move, we were paying $37 a day to have a car—that’s $25 more a day—before factoring in gas, insurance, and wear and-tear. For context, $25 equals one nice bottle of wine or two decent bottles of wine or five bad bottles of wine or enough White Claw to forget you’re riding a bike to work.

A Quick Thought:I don’t know why we purchase cars. Unless you’re talking about a 1983 Chevy El Camino with a 305 V8 and matted black/gold finish, most cars are just blah. The best car I owned was a 2002 Toyota Tacoma and I drove that sucker into the ground. By and large, most new cars today are very reliable, fuel efficient, and boring. They don’t have the distinct styles of the 60s, 70s, and God help me, 80s. They’re just vehicles to safely transport you from Point A to Point B. So, to buy a “blah” car doesn’t make much sense. Unless you have a very specific car and intend on owning it for a very long time, leasing makes better financial sense.

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The Route

We live in Sugar House. Well, technically, we live in a neighborhood called Fairmont, but don’t tell my realtor.  It’s a cool community filled with breweries, book stores, golf courses, restaurants, lots of homeless people, drugs, a couple of parks, and tons of traffic. It’s the kind of place you’d live if unobstructed mountain views and spent needles are a priority.

The neighborhood is in constant flux. The congestion has gotten ridiculous and it’s not getting better. They’re tearing down old homes and building 4–6 unit townhouses everywhere in the neighborhood. Plus, on any given day, you’ll find pop-up Hoovervilles taking over large sections of the park. With that said, Sugar House is an all-time great neighborhood.

And it’s a great place to live if you want to bicycle commute to most parts of the Salt Lake Valley.

From my front door, I can walk to Fairmont and Sugar House Park. Forest Dale and Nibley Golf Courses are less than a 5 minutes walk to the pro shop. The Cinemark Movie Theater a mile away, and we live less than a mile away from two supermarkets, a bunch of bars, and the liquor store. Hell, there’s even a scuba shop 500-feet north of me. Best of all, I can reach Parley’s Trail in less than 3 minutes on my bike.

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Parlay’s Trail runs from the base of Mount Grandeur all the way to 900 West. With the exception of the State Street Corridor (from State Street to 300 West), it’s all bike/pedestrian trails. It runs along the S-Line, the light rail street car that goes from the center of Sugar House to the Central Point TRAX Station. Here, you can connect to Blue, Red, and Green Line UTA and basically get anywhere in the valley.

The S-Line is wide, tree lined, and has a ton of character. It used to be an old Union Pacific rail line and they’ve kept the spirit along the 2-mile corridor. There’s a park, lots of sculptures, and some cool graffiti art along the trail. At night, it’s well-lit with lots of crosswalks. At the end of the S-Line, you have to ride some city roads but it’s pretty safe. After crossing State Street, you ride east on Senior Street, past  RC Wiley, and get to I-15 Overpass. This is a super rad section of the ride because you travel along the Green Line TRAX, up and over the railyards in the middle of the city. There’s a little huffing and puffing getting up the hill, but the descent is superfast and lots of fun. This takes you to the worse part of the commute: 900 West.

Crossing 900 West is dicey. It’s a super busy street in a high industrial area, near the 201 Freeway entrance. Plus, there isn’t a real bike path there—you have to ride on the sidewalks. But, if you can successfully survive the highest-stake game of Frogger crossing 900 West, there’s a side street that takes you to the Jordan River Parkway.

The Jordan Parkway is really cool. It starts at Utah Lake near Provo and goes up almost 40 miles towards the Great Salt Lake. And just like Parlay’s, it’s only pedestrian and cycling traffic. It’s an asphalt trail that follows the Jordan River. This is definitely a well-kept secret (at least for me—living on the eastside of town, I never ventured out here) and it is awesome. The views of the mountains are rad, I saw a pelican on a log, and there is just a lot of cool things to look at. One of these days, I’m going to attack the Parkway and see what’s what on the trail.

To access the Jordan Parkway, I have to cross a bridge, ride past a mosque and through a meadow. Kinda like a John Denver song. There’s a spur that kicks off to Redwood Road about a mile in. From this point, I ride along Decker Park, go up and over the 215, and ride straight to work along Parkway.

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I’ve broken down the distance and elevation:

Section Distance Elevation Gain
Home to Fairmont Station 0.6 miles 26 feet
Fairmont Station to State Street 1.2 miles 0 feet
State Street to I-15 Overpass 0.7 miles 7 feet
I-15 Overpass to 900 West 1.0 miles 13 feet
900 West to Jordan Parkway Trail Bridge 0.4 miles 13 feet
Jordan Parkway Trail Bridge to Redwood Road TRAX Stop 1.3 miles 10 feet
Redwood Road TRAX Stop to Pioneer Road 1.1 miles 23 feet
Pioneer Road to Pill Mill 1.5 miles 13 feet
  7.8 miles 105 feet

The total distance is 7.8 miles with next to no elevation gain. You do ride over two “hills.” The first is the approach to the I-15 Overpass. It’s a decent hill going up. I usually have to gear down a bit to keep stride, but you’re quickly rewarded with a nice decent before ending abruptly at 900 West. The second is an overpass on Parkway Boulevard going over the 215. This one sucks simply because you’re on a busier road. The asphalt is bumpy as hell and there’s just a lot going on.

Going home is a little tougher because you are going uphill most of the way, but it’s really not that bad. The real problems with my commute are what I call Pinch Points. These are parts of the ride where I feel I’m in a little bit of danger of being hit or wiping out on my bike.

  • The southeast corner of 3600 West and Parkway Blvd.
  • The left hand turn on Decker Lake Blvd. to Parkway Blvd.
  • Crossing 900 West
  • The northwest corner of 3200 West and Parkway Blvd.

Ultimately, it’s very doable. Almost half of the commute is on non-motorized trails and the times I am on city roads, there’s either very little traffic or I just have to ride a lot slower.

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The Chabon

I own a Giant bike.

Not only is it an XL sized bike, it’s made by the Giant Manufacturing Company Ltd. out of Taiwan. It’s a 2016 Revel mountain bike with front suspension forks, a replaced plush bike seat (also called a saddle), sticky handgrips and a wicked cool paint job. I christened her, “The Chabon.” It’s named after the American author, Michael Chabon, who wrote The Yiddish Policemen’s Union(2007). It’s a fantastic story set in a fictional town in Alaska—Chabon is an excellent writer, I heartily recommend The Wonder Boys—where crime noir meets the realities of integration. Not only that, The Yiddish Policemen’s Unionhas a really cool cover.

In fact, my bike shares the same colors of Chabon’s amazing book. Ipso Facto, I call my bike the Chabon.

I bought the Chabon from Summit Cycles in Holliday, Utah. This is a really rad bike shop, staffed by really rad people who treated me incredibly, well, rad. While I might see a middle-aged, beer gut blowhard, they saw a guy who wanted to get into biking and were cool enough to help me find the right bike. Standing six-foot-two isn’t great for a lot of things (suck it Southwest Airlines), but it is great for finding a late model bike at a good price. My eye naturally went to the Chabon and they let me take her out on a test ride. It was perfect and the price was even better. They discounted it to $380, a steal at twice the price.

While the Chabon has street-stopping looks, it is an entry level bike. The components are decent, but the Chabon rides roughs. The suspension upfront doesn’t really take the blunt of Salt Lake’s blown out streets and the gears don’t shift incredibly well. But in fairness to the Chabon, it was designed for mountain trails. I still think she’s a great bicycle, but the Chabon might not be the best bike for daily commuting. Sometimes I even have the following imaginary conversation with her:

[Scene: Garage in Sugar House]

Benny: Ok, here we go. 8 miles to the Pill Mill.

Chabon: Sounds great but I’d like to float an idea. Instead of riding to work and writing exceptional product and lifestyle copy, why don’t we just go for a ride in the hills?

Benny: Yeah, we could but I’ve used all of my vacation time going to Mexico City. So, why don’t we just ride to work and maybe we can go for a trail ride this weekend?

Chabon: I knew you’d say that.

Benny: Come on, Chabon. Don’t do that.

Chabon: Yeah. Sure. Fine

Benny: You know I hate those words.

Chabon: Well, you know what I hate? Always doing what you want to do. You think I like having you on top of me all of the time? You’re so heavy that it hurts me when you ride me so hard. I could barely get out of the garage last week after that pounding you gave me.  I’m not a road bike. I’m a trail bike and you’re treating me like some ride-share floozy. You just use me and lock me up in the middle of nowhere—ALONE! I don’t even think you love me anymore.

Benny: Don’t say that. You know I love you.

Chabon: If you loved me, we’d have ridden the Bonneville Trail once. But no, it’s always what you want to do and never what I want. I should have listened to my mother.

Benny: Oh, there we go again! Always with your mother. Look, I’m sorry we didn’t have a synagogue wedding. I thought you wanted to elope. Besides, you know I’m not Jewish.

Chabon: Don’t start with that line of crap! Rabbi Koppelman said he would have moved mountains to help you.

Benny: That’s not fair!

Chabon: I’ll tell you what’s not fair. Heaving yourself on me with little-to-no warning and riding me hard all over town.

[Awkward pause]

Benny: Hey Chabon, want to have a catch?

[End Scene]

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Nonetheless, the Chabon is the bike I own, and she gets the job done. And because the Chabon needs extra care, I’ve learned how to replace tubes, grease chains, and do every piece of frontier medicine the bike might need on the ride to work.

Using what we have is an important part of this grand program. Before deciding to ride to work, the Chabon mostly sat idly in the garage. I’d take her out every now and then, but mostly I was a bike owner, not a bike rider. Now, me and the Chabon are a couple of riding fools. I’ve definitely recouped every nickel I paid for her two years ago. And the dollar and cents make sense. I bought her for $380. Over the last 60 days, that $6 a day. If I can ride her for six months, that breaks down to $2 a day. Not bad. The Chabon might have cost me a couple of shekels, but she’s been priceless over the last two months.

The Sumpter Score

The moment I leave the house, I’m on my own. It taught me to be self-sufficient and confident on the road. This is both a good and bad thing. Just like Mark Watney leaving Acidalia Planitia for the Schiaparelli Crater, I have to carry everything I might need for any situation the road can throw at me.

The most important consideration is weight. Even without any gear, there’s a lot of pounds to pedal. The Chabon is heavy and frankly, I’m really heavy. While I hope to lose a couple of pounds riding, I still have the face the fact that my legs are going to get me to work every morning. In addition, I’m going to need to carry everything I need for work, including the gear needed to repair my bike if something goes wrong.

Spoiler Alert: Something will always go wrong.

For my first trial run, I packed as if I was cycling to Cincinnati. My pannier bag was filled with a change of work clothes, my lunch (you know this was heavy), spare tubes, a pump, and other odds and ends. I was also had a backpack loaded with notebooks, my computer and other crap I didn’t need. When you’re hauling stuff from the house to the car to the office back to car and into the house, you never think how you surround yourself with so much excessive stuff. But when you’re huffing and puffing up a hill, you feel all that garbage. It’s not hard to understand why pioneers would chuck pianos out into the middle of Missouri while heading West.

This is definitely why I took that massive spill on the first day I rode to work. I was all weight and no common sense.

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I went online looking for a term to describe the cost benefit of weight versus utility. Some sort of shorthand way of quickly evaluating and justifying if I should be caring something. I couldn’t find anything to proper explain my predicament with the right phrase. I’m sure there’s a codename or a term in aviation, but I wanted a way of determining if I should be carrying something with me. So, I came up with the Sumpter Score.

A sumpter is a pack animal, like a mule or camel. Donkeys can only carry so much before their knees buckle. I thought it was important to know what I can and can’t carry while riding. The Sumpter Score is only a valuation of an item I carry while riding. For example, a paperclip weighs virtually nothing but has a low Sumpter Score because I’m not going to be doing any filing while riding. A tire lever, which weighs less than a box of paperclips, has an incredibly high Sumpter Score because I will definitely need one if I want to change a blown tube. A carving pumpkin and a case of beer weigh pretty much the same, but the pumpkin’s Sumpter Score is rock bottom while the Miller Lite scores higher in comparison—almost through the roof the closer we get to Friday.

Before you start thinking I’m some sort of a lunatic, consider this: I have a lot to think about while riding the 40 minutes each way to work. And besides, if Watney can have a pirate-ninja, I can have my Sumpter Score.

Things with high Sumpter Scores: spare tubes, a tire lever, bike pump, and any safety gear. Middle level Sumpter Scores: a water bottle, front lights, taillights, bungy cables. Low Sumpter Scores: an extra water bottle, travel coffee mug, extra clothes, carving pumpkin. Everything that I load either into my pannier bag or backpack adds weight, forcing me to pump harder to maintain my pace.

And for the record, my lunch scores a perfect 87 on the Sumpter Scale. Since I’m riding to work and food options are limited near the Pill Mill, I have to plan ahead. There’s a Burger King about a mile away, but I’m never hungry enough to eat there. And there’s consequences when I don’t get a big lunch. I’m likely to start writing copy that is not only boring but highly illegal. For the sake of the company, I make sure to keep my blood sugar at an all-time high to remain compliant.

How does my clean clothes and shower kit score on the Sumpter Scale? A big fat zero. I bring these items in on Friday when I take the car to work. On the last day of the work week, I swap out all my dirty gear for clean stuff. And since the Pill Mill has a nice locker room with showers, I look fresh as a daisy when I show up to start making my pages.

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Off to Pour Drinks

Two days a week, I’m the bartender at Keys On Main. I’ve written a ton about this place. It’s a second home and the people I work with are family. For almost a decade, I’ve poured drinks at Salt Lake City’s premier dueling piano bar. It’s a great joint. The entertainment is top shelf, the customers pretty good and I like the money. If Keys was a 9–5 gig, I doubt I’d work any other place.

Before the bike experiment, I would leave the Pill Mill at 5:00 p.m. I’d hop in my car, fight traffic to get on Bangerter Highway, and will myself to get on the 201. From here, it’s Mad Max Fury Road on the I-15 and a death race to make it to the 800 South exit. Now, the road turns into a parking lot as I nudge forward, inches at a time, to make it to 200 South. I’ll circle the block to get into the alley behind the bar and pray one of the three parking spots are open. If not (and usually not), I’d park in the pay lot at 222. Because the people we share a parking spot with usually leave at 7:30 p.m. or so, I’d get my car out of the lot for $2–4 and move it into a spot. More often than not, I’d leave my car in 222 for the night and pay $20 for my shift.

On average, it takes me 30 minutes of hair-raising driving to get to my second job. Not cool.

Now that I’m riding the bike, I leave work at the same time and ride to the Redwood TRAX stop 2.6 miles away. It takes about 15 minutes which is perfect because I’ll board the Green Line train for Keys. The Green Line goes straight to downtown and drops me off at the Gallivan Plaza stop right in front of the bar. The train ride takes about 15 minutes. On the train, I listen to a podcast, relax and watch the scenery. Best of all, it only cost $2.50.

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Piece of cake.

Getting home is a little more challenging, only because I’m riding at night and things can get crazier when the sun goes down. The ride is only 4.75 miles home, with 265 feet of ascent and 236 feet of descent. The most important consideration is being visible. I wear a bright, reflective jacket, an illuminated ankle band, two rear riding lights, a front light and a headlamp. I look ridiculous but at least I feel safe.

Mentally, I make sure my head is screwed on right before I head out. The general assumption is everybody on the road is drunk, playing on their phone, eating a slice of pizza or petting a dog—all at the same time. Cars are to be avoided at all costs and the right speed to get home is the one that gets me there safe. Leaving Keys, I head east on 300 South. There’s a big bike lane tucked between street parking and the sidewalk. Once I get to 600 East, I head south, riding in the middle of my lane.

600 East is a city approved bike road and I take full advantage of it. Most of the ride’s descent is here. You cut through the middle of Liberty Park and head all the way to Parlay’s. From there, it’s a relatively safe ride to 900 East and home.

I look forward to this ride home every week. The air is cool, and the streets are quiet. Plus, I haven’t once encountered a single car on 600 East. The ride is perfect for shaking off the stress of the day. I listen to music (only one earbud in at a time), think about my day, and decompress. Good shift? Bad shift? Who gives a shit? I’m 25 minutes from getting home.

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Back in the Saddle

I’m riding around 60 miles a week. My legs are usually pretty tired after each day’s ride, but I’m getting stronger. Those stretches of road which used to challenge me are easier than they were a month ago. I’m instinctively shifting gears to meet the conditions and I feel generally better about myself. Before this “experiment” I wasn’t taking the best care of myself. I was drinking too much, eating way too much fast food and rarely exercising.

Life on the bike has toughened me up. It’s not just the physically endurance to ride the mean streets of Salt Lake and West Valley City—my thinking has gotten more acute. The ride to the Pill Mill is a perfect time to think about what I need to do for the day. I’m more likely to attack the day riding into work than driving in hungover. I’m reading more and playing a lot more guitar. You have to be organized if you think you can leave the house and be successful without everything you need.

Best of all, I don’t have to step foot into a gym. I’m getting around 40 minutes of cardio, eight times a week. I’m sleeping better and forced to make healthier food choices. I’ve been packing my lunch and haven’t had Del Taco in almost two months. And this new experiment is good for my marriage.

We’re saving a ton of money on only having one car. This decision has forced us to coordinate our schedule and really communicate with each other. I thought I would miss having my own vehicle, but there is something incredibly refreshing not being burden with the daily responsibilities of taking care of a car. It’s also nice leaving a smaller carbon footprint. In the big picture, it means nothing but in the miniscule, it’s very significant. I’m still pushing a gas-powered lawn mower, but I like the idea of offsetting my carbon emission with the Chabon.

Also, I’d like to think this experiment might be a good example for other middle-aged, chubby, beer drinking, ex-athletes who still have one more adventure inside of them.

Yes, riding to work when it’s raining or cold sucks. Navigating around early morning drivers is the worst. Dealing with the anxiety of not easily getting home can get to you, but if I can do it, anyone can do it.

Eventually, I’m going to invest in an electric bike,  but until I do, let’s see how far I can take this ride with the Chabon. There’s still challenges to be bested and problems to be solved. I still haven’t really experienced extreme weather or a bone-chilling morning, but I want to see if I got the stones to survive winter cycling. I’ve partnered with some folks at the Pill Mill to organize rides into work and there’s talk of getting a proper bike repair station installed. This experiment might just work.

In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for bicyclists on the road. I’ll try to stay out of your way and obey the rules of the road. I read somewhere that the more bikes on the road means more drivers will be looking for us. That’s a good thing—more bikes the merrier. I was afraid of being stigmatized as one of those “bike people” but you know what, bring it on. Me and the Chabon can take it.

Ben Raskin is a writer at the Pill Mill and bartender at Keys On Main. Follow him on Twitter @BennyRaskin. Let him know if you want to go for a ride.

 

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