This morning I checked the weather, and it said 60% chance of thunderstorms for the "commute home" time. I was bummed, and almost backed out. But I've been wanting to ride for quite some time, and I "almost" rode several times. It's so easy to let "almost" turn into "never", and it's so easy to find excuses to not go.
So I went anyway. After all, rain on the ride home isn't so bad. On the way to work it would suck, because then I'd be wet and miserable all day. But if I get wet on the ride home? I just dump my clothes in the laundry and take a shower.
I'm really glad I talked myself into it! Or more accurately, since I wanted to ride, I'm glad I didn't talk myself out of it. The ride in was lovely. Plus I had my bike with me, so I went for a ride at lunch also.
Even the ride home was nice -- most of it at least. I have between an eight and nine mile commute one-way, depending on how many wrong turns I take. (I'm still working on finding/remembering the best route.) The rain started when I was two or three miles from home, and it only got serious when I had less than a mile to go. So I got wet, but not awfully so. And I was moving, so I didn't get cold.
About 20 minutes after I arrived home, I saw lightening outside my window. Excellent timing! I beat the majority of the weather.
Riding at lunchtime reminded me of why I hate riding in Detroit's Northern suburbs. They aren't like my older part of town, where everything is laid out in nice grids, so you can ride on side-roads to almost everywhere. Instead, as one of my coworkers put it, "All the bike paths feed out onto the freeways." Which is an exaggeration, but only somewhat.
Almost all of the side-roads around my office start at a main road, go in little convoluted circles, then end up on the same main road. They are "subdivisions", and you can't get to anywhere else from inside of one. I don't know who thought that was useful or pleasant, but there you have it. It's the Motor City, and you're supposed to take your car if you want to get anywhere.
It's a shame, especially because people drive like maniacs on the main roads and freeway ramps. They stop across sidewalks, they coast through red lights, they go the instant they see a tiny break in traffic, and they never look for pedestrians or bicycles. You take your life into your own hands just trying to walk across the street from my office to get a sandwich -- let alone trying to ride a bicycle anywhere.
Fortunately I already knew to ride (and walk!) very defensively. And actually the Motorcycle Safety Course which I took last week helped drill some concepts back into my head that are very useful for bicycling as well. The important thing is to ride as if you are invisible.
A very memorable thing that my MSF instructor kept repeating is: no matter how it happens, if you get hit it is your fault. Oh sure somebody else might get a ticket, but a motorcycle (/bicycle/pedestrian) will always lose against a car. Therefore it is your responsibility to be aware of everything and everyone on the road, to anticipate their actions and react accordingly. Don't ever assume they'll see you or give you a right of way.
Remembering that helped, as I was pedaling through the traffic insanity by my office. It also helped keep me from getting quite as pissed off at the numerous cars who drove directly across where I was heading. So what if I had a green light? It's my responsibility to avoid them and stay alive, and I'm invisible.
It makes sense -- this journal IS the Story Of An Invisible Girl after all. I just have to remember to apply that to riding.
But all complaints about traffic aside, I really enjoy bicycling. Even if my lunchtime ride was rather harrowing and frustrating, the rides to and from work were very nice. I did about 21 or 22 miles all told today. I'm glad I rode, and I will definitely do it again soon!