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.