Thursday, October 25, 2012

Commuting continued

I’m continuing to cycle to work despite daily 10-15 centimeter forecasts of snow in the B.C. Peace.  It’s not pleasant, enjoyable, pleasurable or any other synonym of the aforementioned three kilometer commute.  Chilly; slippery; scary-mask wearing; uphill; dodging pickups spinning out and confused motorists; winter cycling is turning into an extreme sport. 

Would I love to remote start a vehicle and hop into its waiting warmth instead of layering up and taking to two wheels?  A loud YES! But I choose to be car free this summer and am unwilling to pay for the convenience, ahem silliness, of owning a car in a small town.  Pedestrian and bike friendly it is not – there’s an overwhelming lack of sidewalks, never mind bike lanes in Chetwynd – but I maintain it’s better, or at least less bad, than owning a vehicle. 

As the handful of trails paralleling creeks that link schools and subdivisions are better suited for dog walking, nature strolls and midnight meanders than commuting I’m relegated to the road.  A road which, throughout much of the province is a bustling highway that briefly slows to 50 km/h, carries transports, log and coal trucks and motorists baffled at sharing a lane with cyclists.  Add in some concealed-by-the-snow ice and equally hidden holes and it truly is a recipe for a deadly spill. 

Sure, I’ve been offered rides but some lingering sense of pride, stubbornness, or a desire not to be an inconvenience prevents me from accepting.  No longer employed in the vicious, demanding and ultimately unforgiving forest industry, I still feel there’s something to prove and a toughness that can only be cultivated in the boreal to maintain.  I recognize it’s absolutely ridiculous to jump onto an exposed bicycle and slip around alongside one-ton pickups yet I continue to do it – at least twice a day.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fall snow

Nervously glancing at the forecast, I grudgingly changed into my winter cycling tires.  Man! Am I ever slow!  Accustomed to city slicks for far too long, the new mountain bike tires feel like clown shoes on my otherwise speedy steed. 

My three kilometer journey to my still-new-to-me part-time job lengthened to 16 minutes from 12, I couldn't comfortably use high gear, the sound from the tires was deafening.  With pre, and in all likelihood real, winter so hard in the north, it’s no great mystery why it’s barely populated by a smattering of small towns. 

Comfortably care and car free, I’ve been zooming around Chetwynd on a borrowed bicycle for the sunny summer and now frosty fall.  It's a slower, ponderous pace well suited to northern living.  Constantly conscious of how much I buy at the shops, the spacing of my appointments and the highly volatile weather, I've embraced my commute.  In addition to light (now moderate) exercise, caffeinated teas are pretty much a thing of the past for me as I arrive clear headed, smiling and rosy cheeked.  
"Good for you!" I'm practically knocked over from a high five upon arriving somewhere slightly sweaty and disheveled.  "I could have picked you up," as I carry my dripping bike into the back room at work on a soggy morning.  I continue to stand by my decision to take to my feet, pedals, and crazed car shares in a town where one truck per person is viewed as not enough.