|A foggy mid-May morning.|
|New personal record: 132 days.|
Over the course of the past year, my best individual month was September when I rode 95% of the time. I only drove my car one day that whole month. The worst month, not surprisingly, was January - but even in that dead-of-winter month I still managed to average about 46% - or a little better than 2 days per week.
Since I started biking to work on a more or less "year round" basis 6 years ago, I have always had the long-term goal of commuting at least 50% by bike. There were a couple of years where I fell short of that, but by the end of last year I had managed to get my long-term average up to 50% (50.5 to be exact). With the personal record breaking numbers I pulled this year, my 6-year average is up to 54.7%. That works out to 16,300 miles that I did not put on my car.
|Climbing a hill under bright sunshine with a shadowy|
riding companion on day 132.
Type II Fun: The kind of fun that's only fun afterwards.
In all the years I'd been biking to work, the Greek goddess Pneumos (don't bother googling her) always seemed to have my back and I never punctured a tire. Well, even goddesses must sleep in occasionally because one frosty 20-degree morning in December I got my first flat tire while commuting to work. It was still dark outside, and I was on a hillside on an unlit back road about 5 miles from work. I feared I might not have time to repair it, and I dreaded the thought of even trying to do it in the dark on a 20-degree morning in December.
I got out my cell phone and tried calling work. At worst, I thought I should let them know I might be late and we'd need someone to cover my first class. At best, I hoped maybe somebody with a pickup or SUV might be able to come bail me out. Unfortunately I couldn't reach anyone. I was going to have to change a tire. In the dark. On a 20-degree morning in December.
The road I was on had no streetlights whatsoever, but about 100 yards ahead I saw a driveway with a little lantern light at the end of it. I hobbled on over to take advantage of what little light it could give me. Then I had to take off my nice, thick, warm gloves and set to work prying off the tire and changing the inner tube. Before putting in the new tube, like any experienced rider/mechanic knows, I checked the tire to make sure that whatever punctured it wasn't still poking through. I couldn't trust sight, so I ran my bare (but cold-numbed) fingers all through the inside of the tire and couldn't find anything. I put it all back together, pumped it up and I was off. Though I managed to change the tire in impressively fast time, I figured I only had about 15 minutes to get to work on time - so it became an all-out time trial to beat the bell.
I did make it - but noticed in the last half mile or so that my back tire was getting a little soft again. Obviously, despite my check, whatever punctured it was still in there. It held up well enough to get me to work though, and I walked in as the bells were ringing. No time for coffee. No time to change clothes. I taught my first class of the day in biking clothes. Sweaty biking clothes. I later spent my lunch break patching not one, but two inner tubes. You see, I always pack one spare tube plus a patch kit in case of the dreaded double-flat. This was one of those times when that bit of anal retentive overkill paid off. By the way, it took a lot of effort, but I eventually discovered that I had a tiny little shard of glass stuck deep in the tire - invisible to the eye and impossible to feel - but with each revolution of the wheel it would poke out from its hiding place for a moment then hide itself away again, eventually working its way through my tube. Sheesh.
Okay - on second thought - that story doesn't even qualify as Type II fun. Well, maybe the frantic race to beat the clock qualifies. The rest of it just sucked.