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Sunny, warm fall days cry out for a bike ride. Us retired bike riders have the time to pick a spot not so close to home to do a long ride. I decided to ride my old commuting route.
Not long after the turn of the century I decided to bike commute to the office. It’s something that never dawned on me till someone on some bike blog mentioned, bi modal commuting. The light bulb shone and I slapped my forehead thinking. “Cripes, I put the bike in the car to travel for Sunday club rides, there is no reason not to do the same for work”.
I did some research, this was before MapQuest and all that. The internet big bang had not yet happened. This was also the days of dial up. You know now how much that sucked. Good thing for me because I was in the business of providing internet and phone service with one of the giants. It still is one of the giants as a matter of fact, and they are doing just fine without me. Just like they did before me. Three spots to leave my car made it nice and east to commute by bike every day. If I was on time, a 10 mile commute. Running a little late. A 7 mile commute. On really cold winter days? Just under 5 miles.
Over the course of those years of bike commuting, I watched kids waiting for the school bus in front of their homes, mature from, grade to middle to high school and eventually, move on. The City of Tauton Built a new high school and my daily rides turned intimidating hills into meager inclines. I would see the same people walking daily. Over time we went from saying good morning to occasionally me stopping to chat.
Because of my outfit and bike, I was often asked, “you a cop?”
I would answer, “do I look like a cop?”
I would leave it at that.
My route took me through the Taunton State Hospital. The entrance was at the top of a small hill on a quiet side street. As I approached the gate one day, I spotted a 20 something guy with long shaggy blond hair leaning over his bike’s left side with his chest on the saddle looking at his chain. I approached and said
“You need any help? I have tools”.
He looked at me with wild eyes, jumped to a standing position and ate his cigarette.
“I’m good”, he said and as I rode on said to him, “Just having your morning tea I see. Enjoy”.
Another thing that became clear was that heavy traffic was my friend. It slowed everyone down. A lot. Which brings me to another commuting story. There is a rotary, (roundabout) in the center of town. As I was approaching a left turn to get me heading toward the rotary, a car easily a hundred feet back began laying on the horn. After the turn the car came along side and I asked if he was beeping at me.
“Get out of the fucking way” was the response I got from the young passenger. I looked up at the bottle neck a block away at the rotary and said to him.
“I’m slowing you down? Really? Why don’t you try to keep up”.
I stood on my pedals and cut loose, weaving my way in and out of the traffic merging from three directions. I glanced back and saw the car trying their best to get to me. Once through the rotary it would be easy to catch me on the boulevards. Because I had been commuting this town for years, it was my territory. I turned into a very old narrow alley that is so obvious, that not many drivers ever notice it, to my car which was parked in my winter commute location, at the police station. Never saw them again. There were other adventures during my years of multi modal commuting, but those are for another day.
I still ride almost every day, just like my commuting days. In the past the search for coffee was for a Dunkin Donuts. Thanks to Chasing Mailboxes in DC, Dunkin has been moved from the designated shop to the one I have to sometimes settle. I now look for independent cafes where I can get a good cappuccino built by a Barrista. Those places have much better food to boot.