September 02, 2007

Biking to work

On Friday, I finally did something I've been wanting to do for a long time- I biked to work. I guess I got the notion back in the spring or summer of 2000, when my brother-in-law got me back into biking. At the time, he lived a little over a mile from the UT apartments over on Sutherland, where the Third Creek Greenway started at the time (I think they have extended it). He mentioned how he had been riding on the greenways, and it sounded pretty cool. I was working second shift on the help desk and had some time during the day. Back then, I just had my old Huffy 10-speed that I had gotten for Christmas back in 1986, but I managed to make several rides with him from his apartment (I'd just unceremoniously dump the bike in the back of the Civic hatchback I had at the time and drive over there) down the Third Creek Greenway, pick up the Neyland Greenway at the river, and ride down to Volunteer Landing. We'd stop for a break at the marina just down from what used to be the Riverside Tavern, and head back.

After a few months, we quit- I don't really remember why. My bike was getting in worse and worse shape, and I didn't want to invest the money in a better one. I was about 13 miles of mostly bicycle-unfriendly road away from work. I knew that I would definitely need a shower assuming I could even make it in the first place, and there were no facilities. So my dream of riding to work was put on indefinite hiatus.

In 2005, I finally bought a better bike- a Trek 350- from a co-worker. I rode it around the surrounding neighborhoods and eventually over to Tyson Park a few times. I wanted to make all the way down to Volunteer Landing and back from my house, but never consistently rode enough to feel like I could do it. I did drive over to Sutherland with the bike on the rack one football Saturday in 2006 and rode down to campus. I stopped at a little food stand along Neyland and took a break, watching one of the day's games on a TV they had set up outside. It was late October, I believe, and an absolutely perfect day for it. I hope to do that again this year.

When we moved into the new house off Fox Lonas in March, one the few things that dissatisfied me about the house was the distance (and quality of roads) to the nearest greenway entrance. However, in May I managed to ride across Park Village to Crosspark Drive and from there up to the Bridgewater entrance to the Ten Mile Creek greenway. They finally put a connector in behind the Walker Springs Wal-mart, so I could get all the way over to Vanosdale via the Jean Teague greenway. I figured all in all I was doing about 8 miles or so round trip- child's play for a serious cyclist but enough to give me a workout. I started riding that route on Sunday afternoons.

After a few months of doing that most weekends, on Sunday, August 13th, I decided to try to get over to my office at Centerpoint (Lovell and Pellissippi). I took Fox Lonas down to Cedar Bluff, then went up to Sherrill Lane and took it around to get on Pellissippi at Dutchtown. Fortunately, Pellissippi has a wide shoulder even though it is heavily traveled. Even though it was over 90 degrees that day, I managed the round trip of about 11 miles without too much trouble. I then got approval from work to order a laptop backpack, as the shoulder bag I had was totally impractical for biking.

On Friday, August 31st, we had my car in the shop and Heather wanted her car for errands that day. There was a 40% chance of rain but fortunately it never materialized. I got a much later start than I had intended (7:20 am) but I decided to go for it anyway, and really had no issues with traffic. While I was a little hotter than I would have liked when I got to work 25 minutes later, it was nowhere near as bad as I had feared it might be. I left at 3:45 p.m. to beat the traffic, and made it home safely. I was pretty exhausted that night- a lot more than I had expected- but over all was just pleased and proud.
I don't know how often I will do it again. I like the idea of saving gas and knocking out a workout during my commute, and 25 minutes either way is not bad at all. However, weather concerns me, and I would hate to get in a situation where I needed to make a site visit and was stuck at Centerpoint without a car. We don't have the best place to keep a bike, either- I ended up parking it in an empty cube the other day. Whether I do it again soon or not, I'm still glad I finally did it.

Posted by: jadawin at 09:21 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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