Yay spring! The weather has been clear and sunny. I decided not to buy a Metropass this month. Instead, I'm biking to work and to wherever else I want to go.
The commute to work is wonderful. It's mostly downhill through High Park, then eastward on the Martin Goodman trail along the lake. It's mostly car-free, just a short segment near the downtown core where I have to worry about car doors and people turning.
The bike commute takes me 45-60 minutes at a leisurely pace, around the same time as the subway - maybe even faster. I like biking much more than squeezing my way into the crowded subway cars (still pretty spacious, I think, remembering Tokyo).
It's a quiet, alone sort of time. When I'm on the trail, I can let my thoughts wander. Not too far – I still have to watch out for other people and the occasional goose – but enough to let go.
So I write and read a little less than I used to, but I get to exercise more. Yesterday, I biked for 45 minutes going to work and an hour coming back. Then I accompanied my husband to buy something near Bathurst and St. Clair, which was another 35 minutes each way. Almost three hours of biking, and I felt great.
Biking is definitely going to be part of my experimental life. I can pack my laptop, the new battery slice I ordered, and a sandwich, and wander around town. Hmm, the possibilities…
Maira and Scott suggested biking along the Humber river trail, which stretches north-southish all the way up to Steeles. I'd never been along the north part of the trail, and it sounded like a great way to spend the Sunday afternoon. They originally wanted to meet up at 12. It was 11:30 by the time I left. It would've taken me too much time to get there through public transit, so I arranged to bike up and meet them at some point along the trail.
The Humber trail is an easy ride with the occasional hill. The only tough parts are that you sometimes need to find the trail again. I got a little lost along the way, but GPS and other people helped me get back on track.
My friends were running quite late, so I ended up leisurely pedaling all the way to the beginning of the Humber trail near Kipling and Steeles. I had my Kindle with me, so I passed the time reading. After we met up, we took the trail south. We overshot Bloor and circled back, emerging at Royal York and Bloor. We headed our separate ways at Bloor, and I made it back home by 4:30pm.
I covered 50km, finished two bottles of water (and wished I'd brought a third), and snacked on one granola bar. When I got home, I had a refreshing shower, then read two books and took a short nap.
So. Biking a long way. I think it's the longest and farthest I've biked semi-continuously. I wasn't winded afterwards, just a tad wobbly, and W- and I still got plenty of things done the rest of the day. I think it's more like plugging away at this exercise thing, like perhaps you might on a stationary bike, except that the scenery changes, there's the occasional breeze, and you really should put on sunblock (which I did). It's not hard. It's just being present and keeping your legs moving, and maybe not getting run over by cars on the stretches between the proper trails.
I think it's amazing being able to bike on a small paved trail clearly in much use - we saw lots of pedestrians and other cyclists - far away from the sights and sounds of the city, yet in the heart of it, and never too far away from help or the rest of the world. There are many other things I can do in five hours, sure, but this is pretty good too.
One of my principles is kaizen: continuous improvement. If you can make your life 1% better every day, you'll double your life's awesomeness in less than three months. Even if you improve life by 0.01%, you'll still do pretty darn well over time. Today was one of those 0.01% days. I don't know why I didn't think of this before.
You see, I often ride my bicycle to work. This means maneuvering my long-framed bicycle through the mudroom, out the door, and down the porch stairs. The door has two parts: the actual door, which opens inward, and the screen door, which opens outward. If I roll my bicycle near the door, then open it, the door often gets stuck in front of my bicycle. If I open both the door and the screen door, one of our cats usually slips out and starts exploring the porch. (I'm looking at you, Luke.)
Today I had an epiphany. If I open the house door but not the screen door, then I can get out more easily and I don’t have to worry about the cats slipping past. This is what it looks like:
Yes, I know, obvious, but I managed to get through one whole year with this bicycle without having that aha! moment, because I always thought of door-opening as an integral operation: open the house door, then open the screen door. Close the house door, close the screen door. Even though we sometimes leave the house door open and the screen door closed to let in summer breezes, it didn’t click until I stopped and thought about why I was getting stuck in the bike room.
Little things like that are the cruft of un-consciously moving through life, and it’s so much fun to fix them. So many opportunities for improvement everyday!
I’ve just come back from a bike ride organized by the Toronto Bicycling Network. The ride was supposed to go from High Park to Port Credit, but we stopped at the Tim Hortons near Alexandra Avenue and Lakeshore Road because it was raining so hard. The Tim Hortons we stopped at was just 3.5km from the destination, though, so I’d count that as mostly there. =) In total, I biked 33.7km in about two hours of constant rain, although part of that time was spent rather comfortably sipping hot chocolate inside the cafe.
This is where we ended up:
I’d never been that far west on my bicycle, and I haven’t biked in the rain for such a distance or length of item. It’s not that scary after all, although I wish I’d worn my rain pants and my gloves!
While we don't have anything like the awesome biking infrastructure of the Netherlands (oh, and all that flat land - envy!) or the widespread bikes-on-every-bus mixed commutes of Boulder, Toronto is still pretty decent when it comes to biking. June is Bike Month here, so there'll be plenty of events coming up! It's a good time to take to the road and explore routes I don't normally pass. Here's what I'm thinking of:
Not biking-related, but may still get me out of the house:
Anyone want to come along?