Another Typical Seattle Commute

I ride 2 commute routes during a week, pretty much the same roads and the same times every day. I’m amazed at the daily differences. Take today for example: 1st real ride on the new gear ratio, nearly crushed by a bus, got smoked by a single-speeder on the Burke, witnessed seattle’s finest patrolling the path down near the U, and got to talk to a Paris-Brest-Paris veteran on the Bus on the way home. This list doesn’t include the amazing, fantastic sunset this evening. Ho-hum, just another wildly varied daily ride.

I finally got my big black and yellow rain bike back on the road after replacing most of the drive train last week. Unfortunately I neglected to get a new rear cog to match the larger front chain ring I put on, so I went from 60 some gear inches to 70 in one go, which may not be a lot for some but it’s a bit much for me. Rolling out of the house this morning I felt like I was standing on each pedal for much, much longer getting started up. Undoubtedly this is what distracted me until the Bus got too close.

Buses have a tough lot in life, they really do. Imagine your car was articulated, 60 feet long, and needed parking for 1 minute every 2 blocks. Now imagine some pip-squeak on a bike is pulling up along side you at an intersection with a stop on the next block. As you pull to the right to make the stop, the space for the rider gets smaller smaller… Fortunately the rider isn’t so distracted that he doesn’t just come to a complete stop to keep from being made into jam. Regardless of how tough life is for buses, this still pisses the rider (me) off. Bah to you, #5 bus!

Having survived the traffic, I made it down to Freemont and hit the Burke-Gilman trail. I figured I’d be going pretty fast on my new 70 gear inches of steel, but even this small hubris was paid off in spades as some guy on a single speed blew past me on the way to the same destination as me, clearly pushing a much smaller gear. Maybe it’s time to consider a different rear-cog.

Even if speed wasn’t on my side, luck was. As I huffed and puffed along the Burke I noticed a new addition to the stop signs at the first major intersection. “Stop. Police ahead”, hand written and taped to the stop sign. This got my attention much more quickly than the blinking red LEDs on the sign. Sure enough, Seattle’s finest bike police were just past the bushes on the other side, presumably warning forgetful cyclists about the dangers of running stop signs. Is Seattle finally stepping up enforcement of cycling laws? I chatted with the officer a bit, but he wouldn’t let on what was up.

So much for the morning commute, the evening commute was just about as good. After 2 buses passed me by with full racks and a minor hail storm, I was a bit surprised to see another rider pull up to my stop on 520. We got to talking and it turns out he’s ridden hundreds of miles in all kinds of conditions, say during the PBP. Turns out Albert’s a veteran member of SIR, the Seattle International Randonneurs and not only rode PBP last year but finished (remarkable because the dropout rate was about twice normal). Anybody who even shows up for the PBP has my complete respect, and it wasn’t wasted on Albert. He commutes up from Federal Way, sometimes as much as 34 miles 1-way on bike. We had a lovely chat about lights, commuting, and some of our local cycling celebrities.

The rest of the ride home was pretty much uneventful, including the part where I made it up the almost 400 feet to my house on the new tall gears. I fully expected to be walking my bike up the last few hills but low and behold I made it just fine. The weather cooperated very nicely, including a great sunset. So nice to have the sun still up when I’m headed home!

My carpool mate was asking me a few days ago if I’d take a bus instead of riding if it showed up directly in front of my house and honked every day. I don’t think I would. My daily commute’s a fantastic antidote to the daily grind, and even though it’s the same route there’s always something new around the next corner.

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