Sunday, May 2, 2010

Commuter Prologue

I went for my first bike ride since my accident yesterday, and I realized right away that riding a bicycle is still a lot of fun!

Before setting out on the day's modest adventure, I felt I had to at least be able to perform a particular piece of bicycle maintenance--changing a tube--and after successfully performing that task, I felt comfortable enough to take on my first challenge--a ride to my train station. I live a little more than a mile from it, so that ride seemed an ideal way to start my return. If I punctured, well, it's not too much of a walk...

I've done this ride a zillion times, but usually with the imperative of having to catch a train looming over me, which gives the ride the feel of the individual time trial. Also, I usually do it early in the morning, which means the synapses aren't firing at full strength yet. Yesterday, however, I left home midday, fully aware, on a warm, sunny spring day, and in that atmosphere my return to cycling was nothing but enjoyable.

My destination was the Melrose Drive Station which is one of the NCTD's Sprinter train stops. I didn't pay exacting attention to my departure time from home, but I must have developed a certain timeliness because I made it to the station in time to comfortably catch a westbound Sprinter had I wanted to.

Here is ol' 4008 posing for a picture. Sprinter trains are inviting, unpretentious, and have a friendly feel (even if some of the passengers don't). The entrances are like an elevator's, so bikes, baby carriages, and wheelchairs roll right in with no fuss. Also, Sprinters have no competing traffic on the line, so their on-time performance is quite good.

See ya later, 4008!

While bikes are welcome on the Sprinter, I prefer to leave mine at the station in a bike locker. I have access to lockers at both ends of my commute, and they are of two different types. At Melrose, the NCTD has keyed lockers which are not shared. Locker #3 is mine because I was the third person to ask for one. I also think I am the last to ask for one at this station, since I haven't seen #4 used yet (actually, I've only seen another one--#2--used once).

Here's my bike in storage position. The lockers open on either end, and a diagonally placed sheet of wood separates the lockers. I suppose you could sleep in one, but hopefully it doesn't come to that. I like that this saves me having to bring a lock and remove a wheel to lock up securely. Also, sometimes my commute results in having to leave a bike in a locker for a couple of days which is safer than leaving a bike locked up outside. Drier, too.

Satisfied that I could ride to the station and secure my bike, I started my return home, but it was such a great day, I thought why not go for a little ride? I took a broader loop home, testing the performance of my left hand by making left turns in traffic. Since I don't set my bikes up like the Italians (as demonstrated here by Mario Cipollini), my left hand operates the front brake, and it feels little bit mushy. The tendons I severed are essentially repaired, but I also severed the Ulnar nerve, and that heals much more slowly. Hence, like early morning brain synapses, not all the hand muscles are getting the signals from my brain. This makes the ones that do get the signal have to do all the work and it fatigues them rapidly. While my legs feel great, my riding isn't limited by them but rather on my left handed squeezing stamina.

Still, it was fantastic to see the world from the saddle again and feel that unique feeling of freedom that cycling provides. I'm even looking forward to Monday morning when I'll resume my early morning diminished-capacity time trial to catch a train (don't worry, Mom; I'll leave a couple of minutes earlier).

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