Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Lovely Commute

Today was a great day of cycling. I rode over 33 miles to and from work without incident -- unless we count mother nature :)

morning commute
Morning Ride
The morning ride was a thing of beauty. The air was brisk but comfortable enough to ride in shorts. We had 5 cyclists and I drove the bus when we got to University. I usually stay in the back (so I can draft and not have to lead) but Jason rode in the back so he could capture unobstructed video behind his bike. I was amazed that I managed to average 14 mph while riding in front.

Jason took this photo on University Blvd between Goldenrod and Hall. Notice how few cars there are on the road. It is not because it's not busy during this time of the day; it is because the platoon of cars passes us after the intersection, then we get the road to ourselves for at least a minute or two before the next platoon is released. Traffic usually builds up at Dean and at Rouse, and even we have to wait through a cycle or two at those red lights. Traffic was particularly thick near Rouse today for some reason, so we pulled off at the gas station to let the platoon pass and then get the road to ourselves again until we got to UCF. This costs us 30 seconds at most, but it's a more pleasant experience for us and the motorists alike.

Lunch Ride
My main office is in Research Park, about 2 miles from UCF, but I was on campus for meetings in the morning. After lunch, I rode the 2 miles to my office. It was certainly warmer and windy by then but it's a short enough ride to still be pleasant.

Afternoon Ride

riding in the rain
When I left my office, it was overcast and the air felt like rain was coming. I rode the 2 miles to campus, successfully negotiating my way out of the bike line at the intersection with a new strategy. We debated for a while what to do about the impending rain (we could hear thunder and see lightning in the distance), but finally decided to head out to meet our 4th cyclist at Rouse. As we approached the Wendy's, we could see the wall of rain approaching so we decided to take the trail as it looked like the rain was heading in a different direction. We waited at the intersection to cross onto Rouse and saw the rain inching ever closer and finally drenching us. By the time we got to Blanchard Park, it had slowed but it didn't fully let up until after we were past the park. It actually made for a very pleasant ride as the trail was empty.

Once we got to Hanging Moss, a 2-lane road, we employed the control and release technique to keep ourselves safe and still let motorists pass when it was safe to do so. It worked beautifully and I felt like a super hero every time I out my hand out to keep motorists from passing us onto oncoming traffic and then wave them through when it was clear. It's really empowering to ride on a road like this using this technique properly. Even on a road that's barely wide enough to share, I do not mind slinking away to the right to let a motorist past because they've now slowed to my speed while waiting for me to wave them through so the passing clearance needed is greatly reduced. We then turned left onto Semoran and controlled the right lane until we turned right onto Baldwin Park. We had the road to ourselves the entire time.

Leading the Dance
Driving your bike on the road truly is like leading a dance (this is a great article on the Cycling Savvy site with video demonstrating how easy it is to ride in traffic and negotiate your right of way with motorists). It is all about timing and communication. When I ride assertively, make my intensions known with clear communication, take advantage of gaps in traffic, and have confidence in those choices, my ride is exponentially more enjoyable. My stress and anxiety levels today were nonexistent. It wasn't too long ago when the thought of riding on University Blvd terrified me, let alone riding on the outside of the lane (where I am more exposed to traffic) or on the front of the bus. But today I felt at ease and on top of the world. Even when I realized I forgot my hair products, I didn't let it phase me. I made do with what I had. I simply felt in control of everything that transpired today and that's a wonderful feeling.

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