Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The hybrid commute - an interim solution for a transitional period

Since my company moved to the south end of downtown (and I live north) I've given up bike commuting all the way into work. Consequences: more time to read, more trouble maintaining a stable weight (but I seem to be succeeding with a combination of replacement activities), and more commuting options. If I'm short on time I can now drive to a park-and-ride and get to work within 45 minutes of leaving home; if I have time I walk the two miles instead, adding half an hour; a compromise is biking to the park-and-ride. And if I'm feeling energetic I bike 6.5 miles into Edmonds and take the train.

The latter alternative is the most enjoyable, and one I should probably take advantage of more often since my employer-provided Orca card covers both the train and busing. With the plethora of options I've become lazy and will wimp out if I'm just not feeling up to it in the morning, which is most of the time (sadly). Back when I worked in Fremont I had pretty much no other option, so I just hopped on my bike no matter how tired I was. I'm getting soft.

But driving to work still is pretty much out of the question. I've found a $5 parking lot that I can use in a pinch, but I have such an aversion to driving downtown that it's never tempting, and I've only done it maybe three times when circumstances required it.

The bike ride into Edmonds takes me up and over the Shoreline hill (200 feet up, 450 feet down, roughly speaking). It's not like the ultra-flat Burke-Gilman, but if I take it slow I can ride in my work clothes. It doesn't help that my current bike is in its senescence and I haven't found a suitable replacement yet (I've been looking for three years now). It clicks, squeals, and acts generally ornery even though I just spent $200 on a tune-up. At 28,000 miles it's a creaking fossil. If I'm biking with my wife and I'm in front as we head down a steep hill, she has to brake the whole way just to avoid ramming me.

I don't know what to replace it with any more. Do I optimize for my hybrid, fair-weather commute? Do I look at cargo bikes, anticipating (by probably quite a few years) an active, car-free retirement? Do I buy a touring bike, in the hopes that someday I may make that long-dreamed of cross-country ride? Do I, for the first time ever, consider having more than one bike in my garage? I'm stuck in indecision, at a transition point to an unknown future.

For now the solution is to wait and watch. Who knows what things will look like a year from now? And in the meantime I'll take advantage of the good weather and ride into Edmonds as often as I can convince my lazy morning self to buck up and ride.