I’ve been slowing gaining confidence with my new bike. It has been decades since a bike a major part of my personal transportation portfolio and although “you never forgot how to ride a bike” that doesn’t mean you don’t get rusty. Add to that, how much cycling has changed (and continues to change) and you can probably see why I’m taking it slowly.
First thing, I wanted a practical bike. I’m not out to set speed records, pretend I’m a Tour de France rider or look good. I wanted a bike that was durable, versatile and practical. With that aside, there was the entire issue of being ready physically and mentally to drive on the streets of an American city that isn’t really all that bike friendly compared to some others.
To that end, I’ve been mixing up both stationary and real cycling in small, safe areas to gain confidence and endurance. This morning that culminated with a test commute from my home to my office. I chose an early Sunday morning to take advantage of light traffic and cooler weather (though Atlanta is perennially a steaming humidifier that would do the Amazon credit).
This route is the shortest, with least amount of stops and turns coming in around 4 miles from door to door one-way. The trade-off is that most of it runs down Piedmont which is not in the best shape road-wise and features some pretty aggressive drivers on weekdays. With moderate exertion I can make this in 15 minutes including the few stops and merges. That’s a pretty respectable commute, considering that public transportation can take up to 30 minutes. More realistically, I’ll probably aim for under 30 minutes, with the hope that a slower pace will help me arrive to work in a presentable state and traffic will be more challenging on a week day.
I have two alternates routes, but they have their own challenges. These incorporate Cheshire Bridge or Monroe, but both have more difficult turns, similar road conditions and only modest gains in traffic.
If I could eliminate one factor from every bike route from my home to office, it would be the “Great Wall of I-85”. There is simply no way to cross it efficiently and conveniently (aside from rumors of the eventual completely of the northern leg of the Beltline Bike Trail).