tornado

June 5, 2009

Commuting By Bike Through Monsoons and Tornados

Editors Note: Yesterday as I was driving just South of town, with disco-ball style lightning in the sky, and wind and rain buffeting my vehicle, the thought occurred to me…”what if I was on my bike right now?” Well, PacificPedaling.com contributer Tina Brubaker was, of course. And lived to tell about it.

I am 100% certain that the world would be 40% happier if 20% more people rode a bike to work. These figures cannot be substantiated with anything other than smiles and are base solely on my personal observations.

I’ve been ruminating over a commuting piece for some time now, but have lacked that ONE thing that has been able to push me from thinking about it, to typing it. Yesterday, while at work, I heard the push. SEVERE WEATHER WARNING. It was on the radio, the internet, coming out of customers mouths. While the masses are in a panic about this, I’m am slipping into my Sidi’s and helmet in great anticipation of my ride home.

Tina on a normal, non-monsoon work day.

Tina on a normal, non-monsoon work day.

My love for the forces of nature are deep and I’ve always had a John Muir-like love for the elements, much like you can read about here,¬† so the very utterance of the words ‘Extreme Weather Conditions’ elevates my blood pressure and puts a wry smile on my face. The sky goes from sunny to dark grey in a matter of minutes as I start to pedal home.

It’s hot out and sprinkling and smells like rain. The sky is black to the north were I’m headed, this makes my already ear to ear smile even bigger. About a mile out of downtown it hits. The wind is all over the place, but mostly at my back. The rain comes down hard, and loud. I hit stop lights and notice people in cars are staring at me in my soaked tank top and skirt and smiling or laughing. I keep pedaling to the next stop light, all the while feeling pretty euphoric about my current state of affairs. At this point, the streets are like rivers and the rain is pouring out of the sky like that of a hose nozzle being sprayed in your face from about 10 feet away. And it’s so WARM, it’s crazy!

I’m cautiously manuevering through the flooded streets and smiling, all the while casually watching the people, in their cars, watching me. Besides a lot of smiles, I got a few thumbs ups, a couple “Yeah’s” and an “awesome” from some teen-ager in a truck, but the best of all was a comment made by a well dressed woman driving a mini-van. She drove up next to me as we were both going about 10mph and rolled her passenger window down and yelled “I’m so jealous!”…and I knew she was. I also know for sure, based on the smiles I saw in that storm, that she wasn’t the only driver who felt that way.

The Veloforma as an all-season, tornado-tackling commuter bike.

The Veloforma as an all-season, tornado-tackling commuter bike. Yep, that's standing water, darn near up to the hub.

I finally made it to the bike route, out of traffic, where I was able to think about how great it was that I was soaked to the bone, on my bike and smiling about it! And this is where it occured to me, as it always does at some point on any ride, that going anywhere by bike IS awesome! And this in only ONE of the endless commuting stories of Epic adventure I am sharing. Calm, beautiful night rides home, taking the ‘long way’ on those perfect sunny days, tailwinds that make you feel like you’re not even pedaling. Even the completely average, uneventful rides still leave you feeling good. Every day offers something unique and different, but there is still the comfort and familiarity of the bike – you get to feel it ALL from behind the handlebars and I wouldn’t trade them for a steering wheel anyday*.

It’s raining quietly this morning as I get ready to head out and it seems almost negligible after yesterday’s monsoon, but I still think I’m gonna wear a raincoat today.

(*see me about this statement in January, after a few¬†months of typical Oregon ’34 deg and rain’ days. I might just be eating my words)
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If you haven’t commuted by bike yet, you’re missing out! Tina also sent along these other photos of the great things she typically gets to see on a ride into work. Part of the beauty of getting to work on two wheels is just that….seeing the beauty:
A nice wide open field in North Keizer.

A nice wide open field in North Keizer.

Another shot on a peaceful morning ride to work.

Another shot on a peaceful morning ride to work.

And the beauty of Robert Fox! Robert is involved with the Willamette Valley Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Breakfast on Bikes, Salem Bicycle Club, and too many bike-centric things to mention. He's a dang fast rider too!

And the beauty of Robert Fox! Robert is involved with the Willamette Valley Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Breakfast on Bikes, Salem Bicycle Club, and too many bike-centric things to mention. He's a dang fast rider too!

To learn more about cycling in Salem, commuting by bike, bike safety or just about anything else, checkout the BTA’s website, or hop over to the Breakfast on Bikes blog, which provides so much local information, it’s scary!

Filed under commuting, Misc, Riding by

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