My First Partial Bike Commute: Trial and Error

My alarm is awful. I’ve worked to slowly get used to waking up as peacefully as possible, and I now wake up to one of my favorite Bach pieces, Aria by Simone Dinnerstein on almost minimum volume. But at 5:45am, even an angles song would piss me off.

This was the first morning I would try bike (partially) to work! The night before I planned everything. I was already wearing my base later (a merino wool long sleeve, some long johns, and the best travel underwear ever!), the water was measured and ready to start some great local coffee, my tire pressure was perfect, and my lunch was ready to be thrown in the bag with my neatly folded office clothes!

That smile wouldn't last to long though :(

That smile wouldn’t last to long though 😦

Coffee down, banana ate, and layers applied, I stepped out into the 42ºF morning. It was drizzling, and my hands were cold (I lost my gloves camping a few weeks ago >:8), and I had developed a sore throat, cough, and the sniffles during the night, but I wasn’t going to let any of these excuses stop me! I put the rubber to the metal and began my first ever commute!

3 miles later I was just about to exit town. I was alread a quarter of the way there and ready for anything. Traffic was light at 6:15am, and the rain wasn’t so bad either. The street lamps had lit my way for a time, but soon they would become few and far between. Then it happened: my head light went out…

I forgot to charge the damn headlight.

I had faced down every obstacle that morning. The cold. A cold. The rain. The early morning. Everything. But I couldn’t ride in the dark.  Even if I could see (which I couldn’t) cars entering the highway couldn’t see me. Irritated, I turned around. Pulling in I scared my wife half to death as she wondered from the shower what the noises were as I dragged my bike into the house, defeated, and slightly peeved. My first commute had dissolved to mere 6 mile workout.

But today was different. Still fighting a cold, I got up, made another pot of coffee, packed another lunch, and made a quick steak and eggs breakfast. As I tied my shoes, my pups wished me luck in a variety of ways. Zoey licked my shoes and pawed at my knee; Java, rubbed her butt on the floor. I am truly loved.

Java left, Zoey Right.  The best cheerleaders a guy could ask for!

Java left, Zoey Right. The best cheerleaders a guy could ask for!

When I stepped outside today the weather was a great 48ºF !  That’s not sarcasm, only 6 degrees difference and suddenly my hands aren’t cold anymore. There were only a few clouds in the sky and the moon shined bright. Compared to yesterday, these were perfect conditions!

I had to tackle 3 large hills on my way, but I was rewarded on the last one with a speed I’ve never experienced on a bike before. As I raced the sun to the Buckhead MARTA station, I abandoned my workout playlist (a J-Pop album that is both upbeat and allows me to practice listening to Japanese!) to enjoy the wind, occasional bird song, and the sound of panting progress!

Arriving in Buckhead via Bike

Goooooood morning Buckhead!

Just short of 12 miles and a tad over an hour later, I rode into the station sweaty and alive. I wanted to talk to everyone I passed, but most were still asleep; they had barely made it this far, better to not disturb them. That’s OK, don’t mind the crazy person smiling to himself, he’s going to be just fine.  He’s going to be better!

Managing My Impatience: Waiting for My Trip Around the World

I am not a patient person.  While I say this with confidence, I certainly don’t say it with pride.  It has cost me on numerous occasions money, sleep, and of probably a measurable amount of sanity.  Thus, I’ve developed a few coping mechanisms to alleviate the pressure brought on by the seemingly impossible wait.  The most effective method I’ve found thus far is to litter the time between now and then with buildup events.  Basically, I try to find as many things as possible to keep my mind off of what I’m really excited for, while making sure they are relevant to the whatever event I’m obsessing about.  The specific event this time is one I’ve been dreaming of for years, and actively working towards for one: the day that I start using my first Round the World (RTW) ticket. 

I’ll link to a future post that goes more in depth soon, but basically I managed to secure enough points for a $12,000 RTW flight for my wife and me for only $3,500.  The only problem is that we have to wait for her to earn her sabbatical, which won’t come until March/April of 2015.  Luckily you can buy your ticket up to 11months in advance, and leave the dates open up to 12 months from departure.  Unluckily, 2 years seems like an eternity to someone with the patience of a 9 year old.

So I’ve decided to kill several birds with a couple of stones.  I need to keep my mind focused on something else, in order to not lose it entirely.  I need to prepare for the end half of my trip which will be a solo voyage for at least a month (my wife will return to work while I continue solo).  And it has become evident that I have put on quite a bit of weight, and need to get physically prepared for such a journey.  So last night, despite all the well-crafted excuses my brain generated, I purchased a few increasingly major commitments.  I’ve made an internal (and financial pledge) to the next 6 months that will test me in several ways… ok mostly physically.

Commitment 1: From today, I now only have 5.3 weeks to prepare for the Atlanta Color Vibe 5k run! I generally don’t enjoy running, but I’ve always wanted to see what the Indian Holi Day is like, so I’m absolutely stoked for preparing for something so fun and moderately intensive. Getting ready for this 5K should be relatively easy, but afterward, I’ll only have 8 additional weeks to prepare for my next challenge.

3 Miles of Color!

Commitment 2: The Ridiculous Obstacle Course 5K (ROC Race).  This 3 mile run will be complete with a ropes course, swinging balls of doom, and much more.  I can’t to finally see just how hard those Japanese game show contestants really have it! After that, things get serious, and I will only have another 5 weeks to prepare.

3 Miles of Awesome!

Commitment 3: It hasn’t been accepted yet, but if all goes well I’ve appllied up for a 12 day Alaskan glacier expedition

12 EPIC days!

 That’s right, I’ve submitted my application for my very first NOLS course, and a big part of me is scared to death!  They don’t tell you in advance about the current availability however, so I’m not 100% sure if it will be Alaska yet, since I’ve also selected a 14 day Rocky Mountain expedition as a backup.  In my current state, I’m definitely not ready to hike 50-100 miles into the mountains, or live on a glacier, so the two previous 5K runs will be used as check points to gauge my improvement between now and then.  What I’m most excited about however is applying what I learn at NOLS to the RTW trip.  Since I plan to explore Japan (or some part of Asia) for at least a month solo, I need to be open to the idea of camping alone if I intend to stretch my dollars out as far as possible.

So there you have it. Rather than spend more money of eating out, I’ve dedicated ~200$ of next months budget to commitments that will serve a variety of purposes, but ultimatly distract me whilst I await the best trip in the world. The next 6 months should be so much fun that my RTW trip (hopefully) won’t feel so far away. Plus I’m definitly going to Dragon*Con in August so, I’m pretty much occupied until September.  As for what I will do next… we’ll just have to wait and see :D!