Once upon a time, when were were proper DINKS, we bought a house outside of town. It was great: lots of land; great views; tons of privacy. It was quite perfect…in the pre-kid world. That was then. This is now…
While the old neighborhood had many positive attributes, you couldn’t exactly call the area kid-friendly: no parks, no sidewalks, no shade, and a 4-lane road as the first barrier to getting anywhere by bike.
We moved back into town last fall, and re-discovered the simple pleasures of town living: neighbor kids who live next door; the kid living 5 houses away is not a quarter mile away; the ability to walk to both caffeine stations and restaurants for all times of day and all occasions; and the Bike Paths!
Those bike paths have really sucked us in. MaryBeth has become a strident (self-righteous?) bike commuter. Junior rides either his pedal-less Strider bike or the Trail-a-Bike to or from school most days. When Mark starts riding his bike to work, Junior will then only commute by bike. At four bucks a gallon for gas, that day should come soon.
Meanwhile MaryBeth gambled with fate and rolled snake-eyes. Fate knows a boast when it hears one and unleashes the karmic forces to restore balance and humility onto the world. What was her egregious affront? She had taken to stating the following:
“It takes me less time to ride my bike to work than to drive the car.”
Seasoned bike commuters may snicker with a knowing glee at this point.
While technically it is faster to ride than drive on any given day. It never is on the day you need it to be.
Take Wednesday, for instance. At 6:15, having not been wrenched from a peaceful sleep at 5 am by our neurotic lab she got a start on her day determined to get to the office early. After a nice snuggle with Junior, a shower, cooking breakfast, packing the panniers, watering the garden, mediating a minor sunscreen dispute between Dad and child, hooking up the trail-a-bike for day care evening pick-up duty, she headed out the door by 7:15 with an ETA at the office of 7:25. It was a post-card not-a-cloud-in-the-sky perfect Boulder day, and she was really looking forward to a cool creek-side ride to work.
And then fate unleashed its fury: The tire was flat.
Determined to put SLIME to the test, the next 15 minutes were spent searching for some type of thorn or glass in the tire, and trying to get the tube to self-seal. No such luck. Time: 7:30. Instead of being at the office, she was at the end of the driveway.
The next 10 minutes evaporated while guessing where the cleaning fairies had hidden the spare tube and tire irons, followed by another 2 minutes changing the flat (She’s fast…having changed a LOT of flats in her day.) Time: about 7:45. She should be having coffee at the office by now.
While the bike was now ready to go, her hands were not. As a chemist she is not sure how you design a bike tire that could get hands as thoroughly black as they turned that morning. Add 10 more minutes for hand scrubbing, 5 for petting the dogs and deep, calming, breathing exercises, and 10 more for the ride to work. Arrival Time: 8:15.
Arrival time if she had put the bike away and jumped in the car: 7:30.
Certainly bike commuting, especially with children, can be an exercise in organization, not to mention patience, but the effort is worth the rewards: fewer trips to the gas pump to feed the fuel sucking mini-van, more exercise and a cleansing start to the day, to name a few. Bike commuting for her has been part part pure joy and part stubbornness. Now it’s “new and improved” with a dash of humility.
But really, most days it does take her less time to ride to work than to drive….just don’t say that too loud.
A few more of our favorite things: