Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Week Of Commuting, And a Weekend of Riding. What Else Can I Ask For?

Usually I end up either riding the bus to Redmond to get to work, carpooling a few days with a friend, and cycling to work maybe two days out of the week. My carpool buddy is in Europe, so I decided to pedal in every day last week. I realize how lucky I am to have my health, a flexible work schedule, decently strong legs, and a place of work that's only 16 miles away. And I also have a working bicycle (the Miyata) - yup, I've got everything I need to be an independent traveler; all I need is pavement, bridges, and my gear.

On Monday I had to get in super-early (for me, that means 8 AM) to watch Bill Gates speak to my division ("Entertainment & Devices") at Microsoft. Even though I didn't see him in person (they broadcast his speech to other parts of campus), it was interesting to see my boss's boss's boss's ... he's the boss right now, although he's stepping down soon to run the Gates Foundation. I wish I could sit down with him for a day to give me coding tips, but I don't even know if I'd be able to understand his guru-speak.

Anyway, since I had to be in early, I just pedaled a mile down to the bus stop, and put my bike on the bus to get out to work. Even though it's just a mile, the bike saves probably 20-30 minutes of walking overall.

Tuesday was a full-commute, via I-90, Mercer Island, and Bellevue. Let me tell you something about downtown Bellevue: it was apparently designed by people who assumed that all drivers are in large, comfortable new cars, and that these drivers number in the thousands. Oh yeah, and the drivers don't mind waiting forever at stoplights (seems like up to 4-5 minutes sometimes) - well if you're in an air-conditioned box with music, who cares how long the light takes? (It turns out that their assumptions were correct, and that most cars you see in Bellevue are large SUVs, mixed in with Audi's, BMW's, etc, etc) (Disclaimer: Like Kent says, I'm not anti-car, just pro-bike)

What I'm getting at is that my commute is totally slowed down by Bellevue, mostly by the damn stoplights. I come up 108th Ave (the hilly way), and I somehow never, ever, get a green at the light on Bellevue Way, so I always get to stop at the bottom of a 150-foot hill. Then after that if I keep going straight up to Main St, take a right, cross over I-405 (a sea of traffic, always slowly moving it seems), then take a left on 116th Ave. Here's where the traffic gets heavy, and the lights become many, with long waits. (Remember, we're all riding in comfortable boxes w/ music, so nobody minds)

Wednesday was more of the same, but I was starting to get tired of the platform pedals with straps that I was running on the Miyata this whole time. While it sure is comfortable to wear sneakers on the bike, it sure isn't efficient! Pulling up on the straps can lend you a little more power, but not being able to pull the pedal for the full rotation is a weird sensation. That night, I went out and bought some Sidi shoes!

So the commute on Thursday was much better, since my new SPD pedals with Sidi shoes are excellent! I especially like the way that the SPD cleats aren't huge (like Speedplay), so the shoes are actually walkable - helps on the flights of stairs I navigate daily. High winds today, it was pushing me from side to side on the I-90 trail across Lake Washington.

Yesterday, Friday, when I woke up there was light rain outside! No biggie, I've got the gear & dedication it takes to pedal 16 miles to work in the rain. On the way back in the afternoon, I was hoping to make it to Critical Mass, but didn't get back to Seatown until 6:15, too late unless I wanted to hunt down the group. Dammit, I bet they had fun too - the rain had stopped, and it wasn't too cold. Next month I'll go.

Today, Saturday, I'll be riding out to Redmond via the Burke-Gilaman Trail & Sammamish River Trail. It'll be a flat ride, since Dennis is still recovering from his foot injury, but I'm always down for some form of pedaling or another. About 50 miles in total, should be a nice little jaunt.

Then tomorrow, Sunday, I'll be doing the "Big Time 100K Populaire" - Oh my fucking god, guess who's coming to Seattle to ride?! The "Seattle" Intl Randonneurs! Sweet, can't wait to show them around my town, their nominal headquarters, although so far their rides have mostly started far way from Seattle. Their route goes all around Seattle, in a similar fashion to Dennis' "Five summits of Seattle" route. I'll probably post some details about this route later on today, as I'm sure the elevation profile looks like a roller coaster.

Miles this year so far (prior to this weekend's rides): 1079 miles (yes, I broke the 1K mile-marker this week!)
See my cycling log for details.

In off-topic news, I beat Super Mario Galaxy (for the Wii)! Yes, I'm almost 30 and I'm playing games for ages 10 and up, but that game gets hard towards the end! Don't be fooled by the cartoonish graphics, it's a challenging game. My generation: those that were partially raised by the 8-bit Nintendo. (For those of you confused at this point, to "beat" a game means to finish it to the point that it shows you the credits).

And while I'm at it (bragging, that is), I also beat The Legend Of Zelda: The Twilight Princess on the Wii a few months ago! Now that one is really really tough, and I actually had to cheat to find the answers to a few of the puzzles in it. But heavily recommended if you're into that kind of game.

No comments: