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This American Bike Commute, Part III

Posted Jun 03 2009 12:24am
“Forecast: 30% chance of rain. Cloudy developing into rain showers by afternoon.”

I regarded the forecast with a sigh. After great deliberation, I decided to ride the bus to work this morning. In addition to the possibility of getting soaked, I won’t lie – I’m kinda sore from all this biking. Good sore, the way you feel after a satisfying workout. But sore enough that sitting still seemed like a nice idea.

And it was nice, to sit placidly and read a book as we jostled down the sleepy morning streets. It was nice to see some of my English students on the bus, to say “Salaam aleikum” and sit down next to a scarved Muslim woman named Maha.

But at the same time, it was hard to concentrate on my book. I’d brought my bike along, because sometimes my class ends too late to catch the afternoon bus. It was secured to the bike rack on the front of the bus – supposedly - but I kept peering out the windshield at the barely-visible handlebars like an anxious mother. My brain played a running video of the bike jiggling loose, falling, getting crushed by the mighty bus. It would be as bad as running over my dog, I felt. That bike and I have been together for more than a decade.

And once I got to school, it just didn’t feel right. When I wheeled my bike over to the bike rack, the usual crew looked confused. “You’re dressed awful light this morning,” said one.

“Yeah… I rode the bus this morning,” I said abashedly. Why did I feel so sheepish? Riding the bus is still a great solution. Heck, it wasn’t like I’d driven a car or something.

I continued into my building. Still, nothing felt right. I wasn’t hot and sweaty. My cheeks weren’t glowing with energy. I didn’t need to go triumphantly change my clothes in the handicap stall in the bathroom. Out of habit, I filled up my water bottle at the water fountain and chugged half of it – but it wasn’t as satisfying as usual. So I just stood boredly in the hallway and waited for them to unlock my classroom. I’d gotten used to feeling alive, surging with energy and adrenaline, at this hour of the morning. This just didn’t cut it.

So far the sky is streaked with blue and gray, some patches almost sunny. I’m holding my breath and hoping I get to ride home.

by Sadie Kneidel
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