Saturday, November 08, 2008

3 years carless and now I'm bike crazy!

My company moved in August and since then I've been riding my bike to work. I absolutely LOVE it...which is funny, because I was super anxious about it for the months leading up to the move. I wasn't sure that I would keep up with it, and I had a big obstacle: the 1930s cage style elevator in my apartment building.

The cage is heavy and it must be pulled back 'accordion style' to get you and your shite in it. Needless to say, this stylish and charming old lift is extremely unfriendly to bicycles.

Elevator issues:
For the first riding month I struggled a bit with getting my bike in and out of the elevator, oh and I should qualify this with the fact that I live on the 6th floor, so it is sort of a necessity. Until one day, someone asked me in conversation if the cage didn't have a catch. I guess some of them do. I thought about it, realized that I have a bungee cord that would serve as a 'catch' and holy fucking shit I have solved my problem AND my 6th floor neighbors think I'm brilliant because I have solved THEIR problem as well.

Now I hook the elevator open, load in my bike, load in groceries, whatever. It's totally easy.

Dumbass riding on Division:
For say the first two months, I rode my dumbass down Duboce and Division because that's what told me was the most direct route to work.

On the way home I started to notice that the other bike riders would go down Division to Bryant or Harrison and turn left, leaving me the only rider left to fumble my way on the sidewalk because the 5 lanes of Division are scary, then jump off my bike at Zeigeist on Duboce and walk my bike sheepishly up the hill because I wasn't ready to tackle that 70 degree incline.

Then, I had another breakthrough. I checked again I discovered that 14th & 15th are the route of choice for biking to and from work. Other bikers gave me clues, THEY had the knowledge. I CAN DO THIS. I CAN bike to work. I CAN do it and it is TOTALLY FUN. Now the bus does not compare.

Last week, I had on my fancy shoes, I wanted to take the bus. There were a bunch of asshats at the bus stop, the bus never came. I WALKED BACK HOME AND GOT MY BIKE. This is the way for me. I feel more a part of my city. This is my time to myself, this is my time to enjoy the world, nature, perhaps some irresponsible drivers, but some considerate peeps as well.

So what the fuck am I going to do in the winter? Last weekend it rained. The buses get crowded, they don't always come. The 22 is notoriously late as it is. It's an incubator for evil winter cold germs, it makes me feel a bit compulsive about getting sick...I feel a bit Howard Hughes. All bad things.

So I've been doing a bit of research online about riding in the winter. It seems straightforward enough if one is prepared for it. I need fenders, a raincoat that suits bike needs, some bike maintenance knowledge: these things I can do.

I do not yet know how I will achieve this and maintain cute hair but I feel confident that there are ways, I will learn them as I go.

I am going to poll my friend Jessica Meek because she is also bike crazy and has taken long solo rides and generally rocks my house party when I see her.


Good resources if you too are interested in biking to work, looking cute while doing it, and being prepared:

SF Bike Coalition
Riding Pretty Blog
B.Spoke Tailor aka JoyRider Clothing:
Paul Dorn's bike commuting tips blog: