I have successfully made it through 10 days, 155.85 bike miles, 38.7 bus miles and 11.3 walking miles of the no car experiment. I was worried about this past weekend as weather and commitments promised to make it challenging. A quick recap of the past few days:
Thursday evening: One of my crew at work is moving to greener pastures so we went out after work Thursday for drinks and a sending away party. I had been informed many times by many people that operating a bicycle under the influence is illegal, the same as if you were operating a car. Before leaving work Thursday, however, I decided to actually do the research. Turns out it's not. As a bicycle is not a motorized vehicle, it's not against the law to operate one while under the influence (here is your proof). So, with new-found knowledge as my courage, I enjoyed the celebration. As usual, I miscalculated how being 15 to 20 years older than the group I was with affects my tolerance. I was soon feeling no pain, which the crew quickly picked up on and decided it would be fun to see how drunk they could get the boss. I played along for a few shots and a few beers but then, knowing I had 10 miles in the dark to navigate, pulled the foolproof old man trick out of my hat. I would keep drinking with them, I explained, but wanted to move the party to another bar closer to home so my ride wouldn't be so treacherous. Elated that mission Get Boss Drunk was working, they quickly agreed. They piled into vehicles, I jumped on my bike and we were off. I let them get just out of site, turned a hard left and went straight for home, leaving the night to the young people it belongs to. My pedal home wasn't bad, although I did notice a little swerve in my ride and I did end up walking my bike up a few of the big hills rather than risk an alcohol-induced tantrum halfway up them.
Friday morning: Dear God riding to work hungover sucks.
Friday evening: My first ride in the rain. After turning down no less than five offers of a ride home from work, I strapped on my raincoat and pedaled off. Within about three blocks of work, I came to the realization that a) my back pack isn't waterproof, b) neither is my raincoat and c) bikes have fenders for a reason. Not having an alternative, I soldiered home through a mixture of precipitation ranging from light sprinkles to steady downpour. Once I was able to accept the fact that I was going to get wet, I was actually able to enjoy the ride. I arrived home, said my greetings and was met with hysterical laughter. The explanation? I had packed a pair of yellow basketball shorts for the ride home (sorry ladies, I have yet to give in and pick up some of those sexy biking shorts). Turns out yellow isn't the best color for the sprinkles of mud that your tire kicks up straight to your backside. I arrived home with a giant brown streak perfectly aligned with my ass crack. For all those approaching me from behind on the way home, it most assuredly looked like I had taken a giant dump in my pants.
Saturday: Audrey had her Synchro Regionals at Richfield Middle School (going to state!), starting at 9:00 and continuing the entire day. Richfield would be a 19 mile one-way ride, which would have been doable but would have eaten up a considerable portion of my day. So, I decided to make my first bus trip of the experiment. Graciously, KT agreed to make the journey with me. We got up far too early for a Saturday, loaded up backpacks and headed out to the bus stop, making a stop for coffee on the way. It was an absolute downpour Saturday morning, which was fine for KT as she has a reliable raincoat and the foresight to pack a large umbrella and wear sandals. I, on the other hand, am not so bright. I wore my raincoat which has already proven faulty, used an umbrella purchased in an emergency in NYC which cost $23 and is the size of a portabella and wore socks and tennis shoes. By time we got on the bus, I was a soaking wet, grumbling, complaining mess, in far contrast with the sunnier (disposition) and drier KT. We rode the bus downtown, made a quick transfer and were dropped off a block from the middle school. Which would have been really convenient had we not immediately bee-lined in the opposite direction when we got off the bus. We realized our mistake after a only a block, however, and made it to the school in plenty of time to see Audrey swim. The bus ride home was much more pleasant as the sun was shining and one bus took us from one block away from the school straight through and dropped us off three blocks from home. We were so energized that we even hopped on our bikes to take Audrey out for a celebratory dinner when we got home (see Tijuana Donkey Show).
Sunday: Sunday was intended to be a day to rest sore muscles and for the most part, it was. We raced the weather and got some much needed yard work done and were ready to move our tasks indoors as the severe weather approached. Then, however, I got a text from Audrey, who was at work at a local thrift store. The text read "If you want a German soccer jersey for only $4.00, I suggest getting here now." Audrey often sends texts like these while at work. Last week, it was to KT and was for a pair of pajama jeans that just hit the shelves. They are absolutely as sexy as they sound. Anyways, as the rules of this experiment dictate, I must not skip doing things I normally would do if I were driving. Would I drive through the rain for a chance at a cheap German soccer jersey? Absolutely. So, I strapped on leaky (I had by now named my raincoat) and hit the road. My timing was absolutely perfect. I left home immediately after a downpour and pedaled through light sprinkles for the two mile journey. While in the store, I watched a torrential downpour flood the parking lot. As soon as the rain let up, I quickly pedaled back home, beating the next wave of heavy rains and winds by about 30 seconds.
This morning: I woke up to rain, but I didn't even care. I have learned to strap my backpack on under my raincoat, which at least helps it remain somewhat dry. I do take on the appearance of a turtle riding a bike by doing this, but as you have probably learned by now, I've long given up on appearances. I actually enjoyed the refreshing rain on the ride this morning (the lack of wind helped). At one point I even let out a Nic Cage scream and barreled directly through a puddle rather than ride around it.
Side note: One thing I have learned through ten days: I don't properly apply sunblock. I ride West in the mornings and East in the evenings, meaning the sun (when out) is beating down on the back of my neck most times while riding. As I got out of the shower yesterday, I was again met with uproarious laughter from KT (a pretty common theme). She snapped this photo to explain why: