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  1. #1
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Surveying a new commute

    Today I got a call from a local company. They want me to come in tomorrow morning. So I hopped on my bike and set out to survey my new commute.

    By necessity, most of the route is on main streets. I thought I had found one short cut around some of the worst. I tried it out and discovered that what I thought was a through street in an industrial district turned out to be two unconnected streets, but the text on the map connected the two. Very frustrating, except that I noticed a bike path about 50 feet to one side and a creek beyond that.

    But I didn't know where it went and I had to get a rough estimate of the time I'd need to make the ride, so I doubled back to the main streets. I got to the worst part of the commute by the university. Rolling hills, heavy traffic, narrow lanes with no shoulder and 10 foot long potholes where a bike should go. And of course the drivers were honking.

    Past the university the road opened up and the shoulder was 8 feet wide and smoothly paved. The street was almost flat for two miles. I had to wonder if there was any relationship between that and the fact that all the businesses on the street were car lots.

    Beyond that I went over to another street, the neighborhood was poor, but not menacing. I arrived at work in one hour and two minutes. Considering that I had gone back to get a map after I left and got hung up checking out the shortcut, it sounds like a safe bet for a one hour ride plus 15 minutes to allow for a flat.

    The company is on a one way street next to the freeway, so I had to go up to the next overpass to get going back. I rode back past the car dealerships and checked my map so I could see what the bike path that I discovered could do for me. Near the university, I turned onto another street. Again it was a street from hell. Narrow lanes, heavy traffic and no shoulder. A bus passed me and continued to get closer and closer to the curb once the driver was in front of me, and I almost got run over. The lady behind him told me to get on the sidewalk. I responded by yelling that riding on sidewalks was illegal. Following the map, I turned off onto a side street and climbed a steep hill. At the top, I realized that the map was wrong there. So I turned around and coasted back down the hill.

    There is a big park a few blocks beyond that. I went in and soon found a bike path by the creek. It was in tremendous disrepair. I even startled a woodchuck ambling across the leaf covered path. Soon I came to a point where the path had been washed out by the creek when it overran its banks once. I walked my bike across and connected with another section of the path. I rode along, enjoying the greenery and came to industrial district I explored for the short cut earlier.

    So I went out of the park and onto the road to explore the other part of the shortcut. I was riding in the wrong direction for a good shortcut and soon found a big hill. That was two strikes against that route. But I had seen another road that connected with the bike path and discovered that it led to a route through a neighborhood that would avoid the 10 foot long potholes and some bad traffic. So I checked it out. That hill turned out to be amazingly steep and got steeper around the corner. But once up at the top, it rolled gently through the neighborhood and the street went all the way through to the university. So it would be worth the hill. Coming back, I discovered a huge crack across the highway on the steep part of the hill. It would have hurt rolling over it except that coincidently, I slowed to a near halt to inspect a cool house that was for sale.

    At the bottom of the hill I got back onto the bike path and followed it to where it snakes into the industrial district. I was back to known territory and followed the roads home.

    So, it's nine plus miles each way with significant hills. Looks like I'm going to get into shape with my new commute. It's such a variety, roads from hell, wide flat highways, suburban neighborhoods and bucolic parks. We'll see how it turns out.
    Last edited by Artkansas; 04-15-09 at 07:47 PM.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  2. #2
    Cold Rain and Snow Hot Potato's Avatar
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    Satellite images and hybrid maps can reveal amazing ways to bypass trouble spots.
    Quietly elevating being dropped to an art form

  3. #3
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Potato View Post
    Satellite images and hybrid maps can reveal amazing ways to bypass trouble spots.

    Yeah, and I want to look at it all on bikely. But nothing beats checking out the route in person.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  4. #4
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    I'm a contractor and change job sites frequently. When that happens, I panic. How the hell am I going to get there? Mostly I use my Sunday ride time to check out the routes, see if there are any shortcuts. Google maps can be a help if you try Satellite mode.

    You commute sounds daunting. Too much traffic. If you can't find a route that works better, you might be able to go to work at a better time. In Des Moines, rush hour is really about 30 minutes, between 7:45 and 8:15. If I travel before that, traffic is pretty leisurely. OTOH, drivers going home seem more impatient and their impatience is obvious any time after 4:00 pm.

  5. #5
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    You commute sounds daunting. Too much traffic. If you can't find a route that works better, you might be able to go to work at a better time. In Des Moines, rush hour is really about 30 minutes, between 7:45 and 8:15. If I travel before that, traffic is pretty leisurely. OTOH, drivers going home seem more impatient and their impatience is obvious any time after 4:00 pm.
    Well, I did my first commute today. With the shortcuts I found yesterday the 'road from hell' sections were just two lights long on the way there. On the way back it's longer, but that's because I wanted to go through the park where I can take the bike path for quite a long way.

    I'm supposed to arrive at 8:30. I think the employer does it so that the employees miss the rush hour, but unfortunately it puts part of my commute right in rush hour. I found a shortcut that lets me avoid having to ride to the next overpass over the freeway when going home, by cutting through parking lots.

    I was happy to discover that the upstairs bathroom near my office is a single person one with a locking door and plenty of room for changing. I had to lock my bike to a fence outside. I think it's safe there. On the other side of the fence about 30 cop cars are parked. But I'll find out tomorrow about indoor parking.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

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