As many of you living in the Bay Area may know, May is National Bike Month, and today was the 12th annual Bay Area Bike to Work Day. I mentioned this a few weeks ago… anyways, I helped man the Novato Energizer Station, hosted by Lorrie and Curtis of ClassCycle. Between 6:50 (I was LATE!) and 8:35 we counted 85 riders. Some stopped to chat or grab an orange, (artfully cut in Japanese restaurant style by Curtis), some waved or spoke greetings/praise/thanks as they passed, and a few ignored us completely. The most humorous comments were from the car drivers who couldn't overcome their guilt and felt compelled to yell out to us why they weren't riding. Most common were "I have to travel 40 miles and get up at 5am", and this seemed to be the excuse of contractors/painters/tradesmen. It's valid: very few people in the world have the physical prowess to travel 80+ miles a day JUST IN TRANSIT, not to mention the fact that at 15 mph, 80 miles takes over 5 hours! That's a long time to spend on a bike everyday: it would take a true passion for cycling and a LOT of commitment. THEN you'd have to figure out a way to carry all the tools of your trade. I see a lot of "work" trucks driving around with about as much as I could carry on my xtracycle. Then again, I see just as many driving around loaded to the GILLS with ladders, tools, paint, lumber, etc. But I digress…
My point is that most people drive less than 10 miles to work. Maybe not so in the Bay Area where housing prices are so wacko that many many people who work in the service industry travel long distances to work in communities they could never afford to live in. Marin is a good example: if you make less than $25/hr, you'd have a damn hard time buying a place to live in Marin. I know of VERY few jobs in the service industry that make that much, and most make a lot less. Once again I digress, but the whole idea of having to work 40 or 50 miles from home because of this kind of displacement says a lot about car culture: it's damn hard to change b/c it's so entrenched, for so many reasons.
The most inspiring moment of this morning was talking to Bicycle Bob. Bob is 75 or 77 years old (can't remember exactly… and I'm the young one, HA!) and rides his bike everyday. He's a pretty spry septuagenarian if I do say so myself; he just did a big cancer benefit ride up in Sonoma somewhere. He rides a low-end older Marin hybrid if memory serves, and I think I heard Curtis say that he's got almost 30k miles on it! FOLKS, that's not 3000, that's 30,000!!! WOW. He has great stories about riding bicycles back in the 40's in Marin… it's funny to hear about Marin when you could hunt through much of it, there were no trail laws and the land development for housing was a fraction of what it is today. It's almost unimaginable to me; very romantic and wild sounding to say the least. I was enthralled, and very inspired to keep up my riding. Fortunately, bicycling is something you can do until you can't see anymore… then it gets a little more interesting.
Other memorable moments:
- Black guy, late 20's maybe early 30's, driving a BIG van, turning right from Nave Dr overpass onto Alameda Del Prado to get on 101 S yells out when he sees the Bike To Work Day sign (my paraphrase, not verbatem); "HEY! THAT'S A GREAT IDEA! I'M SICK AND TIRED OF DRIVING THIS PIECE OF JUNK AND SITTING IN TRAFFIC WASTING MY MONEY BURNING FUEL… TOO BAD I DRIVE FOR A LIVING!"
- Guy on nice hardtail MTB w/ front suspension dressed in all choice MTB gear comes flying northbound off the bike path, slows down long enough to spew some barely intelligible rap/rant about G.W Bush (the "Bush" part was the only part we could actually understand), then says "Hey thanks for being here man" or something to that effect and speeds off. We all kind of looked at each other and went "what did he say?" "…the only thing I caught was "Bush"". Dude must have had a HEAVY wake-n-bake sesh thir morning *smirk*
- The guy who "used" to run the energizer station where we were came by and talked my ear off for about 10-15 minutes. Nice guy, pretty smart too, but a a little heavy on the one-upmanship for that early in the morning. It was funny actually: I kept trying to throw in some playful banter but he never rose to the bait. He's a good guy and I imagine a serious and caring schoolteacher. His wife came by about 30 minutes later on her litespeed and got a sack/snack and asked us if her husband had talked our ears off… I couldn't contain myself and starting cackling… she knew the score. *grin*
- The accountant/HR woman from Marin Bikes came by and had a hilarious story about how the IJ did an article on her, put her photo in BIG (which was a funny story too) and the TORTURE they put her through to get the right photo for the article.
It was wonderful to be a part of Bike To Work Day… it'll be nice to smile and wave to the other commuters out there when I'm on the road. It makes it feel a little more friendly out there when you see a few kindred souls cycling!
Oh, and in case you're wondering, yes, I did ride my bike to the energizer station. I also delivered all the powerbars for the musette bags from central Novato to Fairfax on my bike, helped them assemble energizer station kits for the stations in Marin and then rode Novato's station supplies back to ClassCycle in Novato. It was one of the heaviest loads I've carried so far (and certainly the largest): the Novato Fairfax trip cargo load was about 60 lbs and the return trip was about 45lbs. Total distance for the delivery was about 32 miles.
Ride loaded indeed:
Oh, did I mention that the my rig pictured above withOUT the Cliff Bar Boxes weighs about 52 pounds? Did I mention I'm not the lightest I've ever been (hovering around 190 at the moment)? Did I mention that I did Freitas Pkwy/Fawn Drive crossover route with this load? Yeah..mmkay? mmkay. Whipping my legs back into shape tout de suite!