Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bike to Work Day, 2009

Yep, it's finally arrived! Bike to Work Day! Or in my case, Take the Caltrain and Bike the Rest of the Way to Work Day!

I admire the folks that ride down the peninsula, and it may or may not be a goal of mine to bike all the way to work next BTWD, but for now, I'm happy with biking between the Mountain View station and my work in Santa Clara. My plan was to take an early train in, enjoy the energizer stations (how awesome is that map? It looks like someone paintball attacked the peninsula!), get my work done, and head home early. Since the southbound 206 is infamous for having one new car (holds 16 bikes as compared to the old cars that hold 32 - 40 bikes) and people often get bumped (left behind) at Hillsdale, I decided to get there early.

There was a great crowd from the SVBC handing out goodie bags. They were awesome, outdoing themselves to make sure every cyclist got the royal treatment. I was offered a bag as I rode in from above. I was laughing, "Hang on, I'm heading up to the platform!" ;) They were waving, saying "thanks for cycling!" and being awesome. I seriously need to look into getting to know the SVBC better!

And the contents of the bag? YEAH!

I was about twenty minutes early for the train, so I popped out the thermos and sipped on my hot tea, watching the crowds. Soon enough we heard the train approaching. I noticed it was about four minutes early.

As it rounded the bend, it stopped. There was a bit of "we're early! stop! stop!" comments, and I wondered if the train had some need to stop at the Hayward Park station.

So we waited. Some more jokes went around about "see, now you really will bike to work today!" Things were good natured.

It became clear quick enough that something was amiss. We could see people walking in front of the train, and sirens soon filled the quiet morning air.

It was the third fatality this month for Caltrain.

I stood there hoping that it would be something mechanical, not a suicide. The man sitting behind me on the train summed up my feelings very well: "I'm sorry that someone thought this may be their only solution. I'm sorry they chose today, when so many people are going to be taking the train with their bike for the first time today. Something like this may convince them that it's better to drive." Something working on the boo boo bus taught me - it's always someones kid. And I'm sorry for their loss.

The trains shuffled here and there, and they made the NB train into an all stops general SB train. With some shuffling about, we got on board and headed south.

I hopped off the train at Mountain View. There was a massive energizer station set up there, hosted by Mountain View Bicycle & Pedestrian Bicycle Committee, REI & VTA. It was great! More great stuff, free Peet's coffee (ahhh!), and one of the REI bike mechanics! He adjusted my derailleur and diagnosed the sudden odd noise my rear brake is making. (wheel needs to be trued).

There were loads of folks there, and at least one bike team. In general, it was just a good feeling. Bikes were left parked & unlocked as their riders walked around getting info & goodies and talked to each other. Very nice!

I threw on my obnoxious ugly fluorescent vest and started my ride. A lack of sleep and an excess of brandy cooled my inner Lance and I took an easy pace. It was a perfect morning for a ride - cool, clear, and loads of fellow cyclists on the road. I waved and said "good morning!" to a few, it was nice to feel the good vibes.
Got to work, changed, and unloaded. Nice haul! lots of coupons & goodies. Also got a "Cycle" sticker from REI similar to the "Paddle" one in the photo, it's on the bike. There's a patch kit in there, awesome! And the thermos wasn't a give away, but the coffee in there was! awww yeah. ;) I love me some Peet's coffee!

The best part about today was opening my email. Yesterday I sent an all campus email out to encourage folks to bike to work or share the road. This morning two of my co-workers wrote thanking me for the email, and both of them biked to work for the first time today. One said, "Once I saw your email I was determined to make today the kick off for my ride. I had not heard of Bike to Work Day, but was trying to develop a healthier lifestyle by incorporating exercise. Needless to say I got my exercise today. I felt so much lighter on my feet once I reached the college (like I burned some serious calories). Now I want to commit to at least 3 days of riding in the summer." I wrote bothe of them expressing how proud I am of them. And I'm sitting at my desk alternating between tearing up and hurting my cheeks from smiling so much. That, by far, is the biggest reward today. And that won't fit in any goodie bag!

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