Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No ride weekend

Unfortunately, I didn't get any riding in this three day Labor Day weekend. However, I don't despair at this, but try to keep in mind it is the Midwest Bicycle Commuter, not the Midwest Bicycle Recreation Rider. I still love to ride just for fun, to see the sights, hear the noises, enjoy the company of family. But, my family and I went camping instead. Which is almost equally pleasant.
The problem is my wife is not nearly as gung-ho about riding the bicycle as I am. She's trying, but has not found the joy in it I have. So, when I ride for recreation, I am usually only with one of my two sons. When she goes, it's easier for all four of us to go. I worry I'll spend all of this nice fall weather worrying over and working on my home projects and miss out on some quality time on the bike with my family.
My commutes in the mornings have been getting darker and darker. I still use my flashing lights in front and back, but it won't be long until I'll need to wear my reflective vest as well. I avoid that until I must, because about one third of my commute is on a bicycle/pedestrian rail trail. I find it unnecessary on this portion of my commute. It's still a good idea to wear it anyway, probably, so oncoming pedestrians and cyclists can more easily see me coming as well.
I've noticed there is one particular section of my commute home which causes me concern. It involves a combination of factors which contribute to my uneasiness. The section of road leads out of town, is a separated four lane road, and increases from a 30 to a 40 mph zone. The road describes a very gradual serpentine path: that is a slight curve left, then a slight curve back right. It is a gradual uphill grade as well. Once the road curves back right again, it has reached the crest of a small incline and a residential neighborhood begins. These houses on the right side of the road tend to block the view of what's ahead on the road.
So, the combination of my slow speed (due to the incline), the increased speed of vehicles, both from the increased speed zone, and because many are leaving town and heading toward the interstate highway and on to Kansas City and they are increasing speed on up to 55 without the observance of the middle 40 mph zone; the limited view the curve of the road produces; all of these have made me feel less confident that I should be staking my claim on the entire right hand lane of the separated four lane road.
Further, it seems like the combination of my speed; the distance from the traffic signal at the intersection where traffic "begins" to the crest of the hill; and lastly the increasing speed of traffic as they leave town all make it difficult and dangerous to switch to the left lane for my left hand turn just past the crest of the hill ( the highway resumes as an un-separated four lane shortly before reaching the top of the hill). It seems like there is always increased traffic right where I need to turn left, even if I pedal alone most of the way up the hill.
I'm sure that was a long and confusing scenario. Sorry about that.
Anyway, so far I've commuted all the days to the high school where I work. I have already begun to pack my insulated leather gloves in anticipation that the weather will turn soon.
You can expect me to begin writing about riding the fifteen minutes in the increasingly colder weather and less and less light.
Be safe out there. If you have any suggestions for me, please leave a comment. So far, no one has become a follower and I can only assume that means no one has even read any of my blogs. But, that's okay. I'm trying it out. Maybe I'll try to make it more appealing and popular in the future.
Keep on commuting by bike!

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