Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Bungee King

Umm, that would be me.

The shortest route between home and work is 17 miles and we don't currently have shower facilities at work (although they're coming within the next year - yay!). I can ride both ways once in a while, but mostly it's not very practical, so I rely on the bus to help me with my bike commute. In the most common scenario, the bus shoots me from downtown (near home) to Industrial Park (near work) in the morning and then I ride home in the evening. But there are all kinds of bike-bus possibilites and combinations. In the icy dark months, 17 miles can be a long ways and it's good to have options. The point here is that I need the bus.

So anyhow, I took the monkey on its first commute a coupla weeks ago. Plan was to ride downtown, rack up on the 72 to Ind Park and ride home after work. The ride down the South Hill was even better than usual. I fell in line behind another bike coming down Washington and then another rider fell in line behind me. Our LED-laden bikes were taking over the Lilac City in the dark, early hours!

Once downtown, I waited at the stop, trying to read the route numbers of approaching buses in the dark. Finally, the 72 appeared and the sqeauling brakes brought the big rig to a stop. As I had done many times before, I muscled my bike up onto the rack. This time though, there was a problem: The big tires and long wheelbase wouldn't allow the bike to set down in the rack. HOLY KRAP!! I hadn't even considered this when I was dreaming up my perfect winter commuter. Desperate to not have to abort the commute and pedal back up the hill and drive to work, I just left the bike in the rack. It fell over, leaning against the bus windshield.

"Looks good to me!" I told the driver. He wasn't exactly buying it. I'm pretty sure he didn't want to be the first driver in STA history to lose a bike off the front of his bus. He was a super-nice guy and got off the bus to help me with my little situation. He said he had another rider with a similar problem, and showed my how to set the front wheel in first, which fixes the bike in the rack, and then lash the rear wheel down. He asked me if I had any bungees, which I didn't, but fortunately, I had a dork bungee-esque cargo net on my dork rear basket, and we were able to make do. (You can see how the bike in the left sits properly down in the rack while the monkey just sort of sits on top of it.)

I got to work, but I've been worried every since about how reliable the bus is gonna be for getting me and the monkey to work. So last Friday night after work, I rode up to the the South Hill park-n-ride and got a coupla other drivers to let me try the bike in their racks. It worked out sort-of okay and maybe I have a tiny bit more confidence now, but certainly not the complete peace of mind that I would like.

Which is okay. Great, really. Because part of what makes bike commuting so great is the adventure and uncertainty. I've found that if I can just get myself to swing my leg over the saddle and start pedalling, I will figure out a way to get to work. It's amazing how resourceful you can get at 6:30 in the morning, when you're on your bike, miles from work, with no other options. And now that I am the proud owner of a Big R bungee variety pack, I will be that much harder to stop.


Hank said...

Right on, brother. Ride on.

Jacque Hendrix said...

Heck, I've used a bungee as a "lock".

Pat S said...

Uhhh . . . yeah. Jacque. About those bikes you had stolen. (Hmmm. How to put this delicately.)

You know how those bungees seem so tricky to unhook? Well, not so much, actually. I'm thinking that from here on out, maybe the Jacque rule of thumb when it comes to locks should be that it has to have a key or a combo. I'm not trying to get all radical on you, but just consider it.


Mike S said...

That is one big bike you got. I wonder how many other Monkey's have taken a trip with the STA?