For years I treated my 22 mile round trip commute like a mini-bike tour. I wore tights or Lycra shorts, used traditional panniers, toted first aid kit, a tool bag stuffed with a variety of pertinent supplies (every tourer should lug a box of extra screws, bolts, and washers), full water bottles, reflective clothing and/or vest, plus stiff soled bike shoes. In short, had I desired to skip work altogether while en route and hit the road for a multi-day adventure—and believe me I had fantasies of doing just that—I was well equipped, right down to bicycle choice (Miyata 610 and Trek 830 were both tested touring machines). Plus, a credit card is assurance, supplementing other goodies a cyclist might need for an impromptu adventure
You get the picture.
Enter the shorter commute.
When I switched jobs in January, and once winter loosened it's deep freeze and roads cleared, I looked forward to riding the Ross, my preferred companion. I anticipated my five mile one-way ride would include discovering possible route variations. Indeed, after my first week back in a commuting routine, stitching bike paths to neighborhoods; that's proven to be true. The funny thing is, regardless of route, all are exactly 30 minutes each way.
|Both routes have their advantages and disadvantages. Which way should I go?|
But what I didn't expect—and thus a wonderful surprise and breakthrough—(at least for me) came later: pedaling a shorter distance has completely changed my view on what's appropriate commuting attire and gear. Or more to the point, what's possible to live with and without. I've discovered a myriad of changes that are more suited to the way I now ride. I left traditional panniers in storage, opting instead to use an upcycled floral sling bag and messenger bag. I bring less tools. I could ride in jeans if I cared to, however black tights are still my preference—sometimes double layers in chilly temperatures. I don't obsess about undergarments either; whatever works is fine in my book. I wear appropriate clothing for the weather: stylish quilted coat, hat, headband, a pretty scarf, purple windproof mittens, warm hiking shoes with thick socks—my everyday wear. but I don't worry if my hands or feet are slightly chilled, because within a half hour, I will have arrived at work or home.
Has an altered ride distance ever affected your gear choices and your outlook on commuting?
|Several warm days melted most of our snow, leaving wet paths that eventually froze into treacherous surfaces. |
I walked this section atop the snowbanks with one arm bracing my bike beside me upon the ice,