Bike Angst

I really want to ride my bike.

I miss being a bike commuter. I miss the ride to GSLIS from our house, 7 minutes flat on a good day. I miss feeling superior in January when I would arrive at work in a bundle of layers. I miss the freedom of being able to hop on Yellow and go wherever I wanted in town.

I miss biking into DC. I didn’t do it all that many times, but it was An Adventure: crossing the GW Parkway and riding up along the river, past National airport, over the Memorial Bridge, then up the brutal hill on 23rd by the State Department, arriving at work jelly-legged and drenched in sweat, but secure in the knowledge that I could shower at the gym.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=104087

Shane has a new bike, and on Monday we set off for work together, resolved to be bike commuters once again. But here’s the thing: I fucking hate biking in Ann Arbor.

My commute is literally up hill both ways.  The route to work is more downhill than uphill, but the uphill parts are situated in the midst of a series of one-ways and stoplights – as in, a light at every block for the last mile of my commute – making it impossible to build up or sustain any momentum.  In the course of a one-way commute, I gain and lose 100 feet of elevation, all on my single-speed bike.  The Statue of Liberty is 93 feet tall, just for the record.

While in most places, a bike is treated as a vehicle and so expected to be on the road, in A2, that seems to be up to the discretion of the cyclist.  This means that cyclists are on and off the sidewalks, in and out of the roads, riding wherever they damned well please – which then means that drivers don’t know what is going on and respond as erratically as the cyclists behave.  This means that today, Shane nearly collided with a cyclist running a red light (or possibly going the wrong way against traffic?), while I was almost hit by a car that ran a stop sign.

I’ve complained about the roads before.  They’re terrible.  This is even more noticeable when you have an uncomfortable seat, and when you’re trying to avoid getting hit by cars or doored while also trying to avoid seams, cracks, and potholes in the poorly maintained pavement.  Shane nearly wiped out in the gravel at the foot of our driveway, and I skidded on a crack in the road today.

In short, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just not worth it to try to ride my bike to work.  I arrive in a seriously disheveled and sweaty state and often in a foul mood from the exertion and annoyance of the ride.  I rolled into work this morning and had no willpower to resist Oreos in the breakroom.  I took a different route home and arrived in tears, winded and sore.  I thought that changing out the freewheel would help – and it has – but I’m still actively unhappy on almost every ride, and that’s just not worth it.  Sorry, Orange Porange.  Maybe we can have adventures in another city.

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0 thoughts on “Bike Angst

  1. Today seems to be the day everyone and his mom decided to ride their bikes to work. I marveled at how cool it was to see a line of bikes in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue (the bike lanes are in the middle). When I reached the World Bank, there were four of us still biking. The World Bank bike racks are always full. Many workers there come from other countries where bike riding was actually transportation and not just leisure.

    It’s all very cool…till this lady, who was riding beside me for a block tried to turn onto me! Seriously, she could have stayed behind me or passed me. I was okay with that. I don’t mind. But who turns onto someone. Seriously! I was right there! Beside her. She didn’t speed up or slow down, she just turned! Towards me!

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  2. I miss biking, too. I loved biking in Seattle. Sure it’s all hills. Sure the cyclists seemed to locked in an endless war with the cars. Sure the bike lanes were a joke. But it was still somehow a great city to bike in.

    Now, without traffic to zip around in, without paved roads, hell, without a commute, I miss it terribly. For a while I thought maybe we’d like to go on afternoon bike rides to local parts or something. No. Way. I loved biking in Seattle. It is not the same here.

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