05 May 2006

The First One, The Baby, The Big One

Hey, I started commuting this week and I just didn’t want to make a big deal about it, alright. I mean riding 2.49 miles one way in 15 minutes, a howling wind pushing on my backside – and getting tired doing it – isn’t something we need to discuss much further. I was a sport, okay. The first day was like this:

I did what I was told; I followed instructions. I folded my shirt nice inside my right pannier, same for the slacks. Shoes, fresh socks and a T-Shirt on the left. But, hey, you’re not supposed to sweat on a fifteen-minute, 2.49 mile ride, mostly downhill. (Don’t ever listen to that rubbish and don’t come back to me about my being over-weight or under-trained. I’m just under-height and quick as lightning on the granny gear. So what if I look like a helmeted-hamster! At least I can reach my pedals.)

On your first commute you sweat. Believe me, others lie. It must be a right of passage or something equally medieval. You’d expect someone to give you some recognition – knight errant on a bike honor thing - but reality is harsh. My lovely family waved and laughed as I closed the garage door. “Now what might be so funny about dad riding his old, ugly bike to work?” “C’mon, dad, dads don’t do that sort of thing…they race and do cool stuff like that.” “Hey, I can race, buddy!” (I could if I really wanted to...just not my thing.)

Minutes later not one stranger even waved at me, though I saw a couple of guys smirking as I zoooomed past. (“That’s the guy who grew up in America,” they said, or something to that effect, shaking their heads.) Now what was that supposed to mean? Were they talking about me? “You talking to me?!” “Hey, bud,” I wanted to yell, but shit, I’m already downhill and can’t go back up to see if my Latin-macho image was being questioned. I must grant it to commuters, but bikes are safer that way.

I change gears the way I change tenses, okay. I can do that; I’m a bike commuter now. So picture this: I’m near the office so I wanna look extra cool making that last turn, but children on fixed gears rumble by. “Hey guys…”. They’re too fast and far ahead to hear me. Man, I wanna look like a commuter. I am a commuter. I need to yell at a car, to win my road space, something. Hah, there. A slick Ford Fiesta comes from behind and gets right next to me. I see the right blinker on. Now what does she think she’s about to do…cut me off…I’m a commuter, lady…but she smiles and waves me on in front of her.

That’s it?! My first commute in? Is that all? No Star-Spangled Banner?

I refuse to discuss my commute back home. Do you know how sheep – yes, sheep – react to the sound of a miss-shifting Shimano?


Shawn Kielty said...


Congratulations -- people will start to wave -- but the real treat will come when the new guy at work walks up to you and says: "Do you know any good places to mountain bike?"

A.R.B. said...

How did you know, Shawn? That already happened!