Here is a great view of a morning commute by Luke who bought his first bike as an adult, a Linus 3 speed commuter bike, in April of last year.He rides to work, about 8 miles each way, most weekdays.
At six, the alarm goes off. If I’ve been good and planned ahead, my work pants and a t-shirt are hanging on the hook on the bathroom door. There’s a mason jar full of oatmeal and some fruit and a sandwich in the fridge ready to be thrown in my bag with my work shirt. My wallet is next to my keys, my layers of clothes are laid out on the couch and I can hit the snooze button once or twice. If I’d been lazy the night before, though, it’s time to scramble around the apartment and get everything together for the day.
I lug my bike down the stairs. I pretend that I’m not the one leaving the scratches on the banister, but in fairness, that’s almost certainly me. Helmet on, these days, balaclava too. Lights, gloves, nerdy reflective strip on my pant leg and I am ready to go.
I turn down the avenue. and ride past the kids on their way to school. I smile at my friend standing at the bus stop. I still take the bus down to the El station when the weather is really bad, and we usually smile and say hello. (Weirdly, a year on, we’ve never talked beyond that and I perversely like this about our relationship.)
Sometimes I will take the scenic route home, but most mornings I take the fastest route; a series of two lane avenues with bike lanes. Chicago is an old city and during this rides it’s the older stores and establishments that seem to stand out. Dinkel’s Bakery, the Golden Apple Diner, the stores of Old Town. Passing them every day makes me feel a little more connected to this city that is still relatively new to me.
There are regulars in the bike lane, of course. The tough looking girl with the single gear bike who’s pedaling always looks a little weird. The guy who desperately needs a belt and never seems to wear one. The girl with the wire basket who always looks like she’s on her way to model something on Etsy. These are real people, but there are archetypes that are tougher to distinguish. When the weather is nice, there’s always a bearded guy in skinny jeans with a fancy messenger bag. There’s always a guy on his way to an office job. There’s always the girl who’s just punk rock enough that you can’t tell if she’s a bartender or a librarian. Some of these are certainly regulars as well, but speed, helmets, actually paying attention to the road and the lights and the cars contributes to a certain amount of face blindness. My brain just compartmentalized these people into their respective groups; it’s too busy with other stuff to do more.
I’m lucky enough to have a bike room in my building. There’s construction, though, and right now it’s tough if not impossible to get in, and this has spoiled me. I like locking up outside and the weird looks I get from people while I do it. I like riding the elevator and having someone remind me that I am still blinking. And I really like walking out and seeing my bike right there. It gives me this weird, schools-out-and-it’s-the-first-day-of-summer feeling. I hop on and head home and if I’m feeling generous towards tomorrow-me, when I get there I’ll start making oatmeal and laying out clothes. . .
Thanks for the post Luke!