Friday, May 13, 2011

Bike to Work Day

I used to bike to work every day.  When I worked at Oracle, my company was at the end of a bike path that ran in front of my apartment.  I used to love getting up in the morning, biking down the path, showering at Oracle’s gym, and getting to work.  My bike commute took as long as driving, but I was more fit and felt less guilty because of it.  Plus the bike path went by a nature sanctuary, and I saw such wonders as a pond filled with ducks, who all stuck their butts up in the air while they searched for food on the bottom.  I called it Duck Moon Pond.
"Hey buddy, I got yer environmental consciousness RIGHT HERE."
Yesterday was Bike to Work Day.  I was a bit uncomfortable about biking that all the way to work because, lets face it, I’m in pretty bad shape.  It has been a while since I tried to bike anywhere except around the neighborhood.  The idea of riding somewhere that I had to get to on time was daunting.  However, I wanted to get back into the habit: better for me, better for the environment.
Bike to Work Day 2005
I went to the side of the house and pulled the tarp off my old bike.  The tarp was wet, and there were spiders trying to use my spokes to catch lunch.  After dusting everything off (with a broom, from a safe distance), I began to wheel my bike to the front of the house.  It’s not easy maneuvering my bike around the house, what with a PG&E meter, four large garbage cans, and a deteriorating gate getting in the way, but I managed it.
Bike to Work Day 2006
Out front, I realized the tires were flat.  After thirty minutes of searching every closet in the house, I found the bicycle pump outside, next to the front door.  I unscrewed the caps on the valves and attached the pump.  Well, I would have done that if I could have.  You see, if a bike tire is really flat, there’s no pressure to keep the valves from squishing into the rims when you try to attach the pump.  It took several tries, but I eventually managed to wiggle the pump to attach it to the valve.  I began pumping up the tire, only to find I couldn’t get any air into it.  On closer examination, I found I had attached the pump on the Presta valve side and not the Schrader valve side.  What is a Presta valve and why is it different from a Schrader valve?  I have no idea.
No, this doesn't help.
I reattached the pump on the correct side (after another hour of wiggling) and managed to get both tires inflated.  Then I had to go back inside to find my bicycle helmet and sunglasses.  Yeah, you can call me silly for wearing them, but there are people who will drive off the road when they see how beautiful I am.  I have to disguise myself.  It’s a curse, really.
Bike to Work Day 2007
Anyway, I swung my leg over the bike to get on, or I would have if I hadn’t had a seat for my son attached on the back.  Instead of swinging my leg over, I banged it on the seat.  After trial and error, I found that I’m no longer flexible enough to get on my bike without swinging it over the back and had to lower it halfway to the ground to get my leg on.  By the way, if you snag your feet against the brake cables, they make a chiming noise like a musical instrument.
Bike to Work Day 2008
Securely sitting on my bike, I found that, in the decade or two I’ve owned it, the rubber covers on the handle bars had degraded, leaving them sticky.  I lowered the bike to the ground and went back in for my old riding gloves.  When I used to bike to work every day, I bought these gloves to keep my hands warm in the freezing morning winds coming off the bay.  I also got a strap to keep my pant leg getting caught in the chain and a briefcase that converted into a backpack.  That backpack was mainly for show as I had nothing to carry to and from work.
Bike to Work Day 2009
Outside again, gloves on, strap tied, helmet and sunglasses on, I climbed onto my bike.  With a wobbly start, I got going and made a quick circle around the street.  I could still ride after all these years.  Yes, riding a bicycle was just like… Riding a bicycle.  After another few test circles, I pulled back into the driveway, put the bike back under the tarp, took off all the equipment, and put it away.

I work at home.


KB said...

loved this about the Peanuts and the stars' agents and such... and great biking photos... where did you find them? Keep writing! I love laughing.

M. A. Kagle said...


All my images come from

M. A. Kagle said...

Just search under "bike crash."