(Note: Thanks to Five Rivers MetroParks pal Valerie Beerbower for a little extra inspiration and the title this article. See video below for insights.)
As you know, on my first day of this adventure I was not at my best. A very promising start got me a little cocky about the ease of bus riding and I let down my guard. Okay – so you can’t just show up at the bus stop and hope a bus is there within 5 minutes each time. Lesson learned – when busing, I will respect the time table.
Today, I added the bike into the mix. As I’ve shared, I’m not what you would call an expert biker. I actually imagine that this is what I look like to observers seeing me cruise by. (AND I really want a basket.)
So, what is a muppet to do? Fake it!
Morning commute: I coasted to the bus stop right by my house and waited the few minutes until my bus arrived – clean, pretty empty (maybe 8 people?) and on-time. Got my bike on the bike rack easy breezy. (But I probably would have been confused if I wasn’t a nerd who appreciates a good how-to video; I recommend watching it if you’re going to bring your bike on the bus.) Traveled to a stop about 3/4 mile from work where I hopped off the bus and hopped on the bike. Enjoyed the smell of fresh cut grass the last few minutes of the trip. Total travel time – 15 minutes. Are you kidding me? It takes 10 minutes to drive. It’s another good start to the day.
Lunch errands: This is when the appreciation for bike riding really hit. I had to travel the 1 mile into downtown to drop something off, I wanted to buy my tickets to the Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus concert (save $5/ticket by buying in advance), and I had to pick up lunch.
I headed out of my work parking lot and there goes another biker gliding by. We give the obligatory nod/smile (which translates to “look at us out here being awesome while all those people are still in their cars” or maybe it just means “hi,” but I’m taking it to mean I’m part of a club now). And since he’s going in my direction, I follow behind.And I quickly lose speed. And although I’m trying to follow all the rules (riding in the street, signalling turns, etc) – I realize that I’m not the kind of biker that cars can feel confident near. I know you “real” bikers will be disgusted with me, but I cheated. I rode on some sidewalks. Some of it was to make me feel safer, some of it was to let the cars know that I wasn’t going to topple into their line of traffic, and some of it was because it was convenient. But, however I got there – I did get there – and it was better on a bike!
- Errand one: Locked up right in front of the Key Bank building (which you can’t do in a car).
- Errand two: The box office was moved to the Victoria Theater due to an event in the Schuster Center, so I unlocked, coasted the 2 blocks down Main and locked up again right in front of the theater (another one you can’t do in a car).
- Lunch: the lovely day inspired me to hit Second Street Market for some yummy carry-out.
Total distance: 3 miles. Total elapsed time: 45 minutes.
And I loved it! And I appreciated going slowly enough to enjoy the sunshine and cool art in windows and the general city sights. But I know myself well enough to know why I really loved it – it’s an easy ride. Dayton is FLAT. Sure, getting to the central business district is easy from every direction, but going away from the CBD means you’re riding up hill no matter which direction you’re heading. But there’s a great 3 mile (ish) area right across downtown that is flat and easy. So, I bus into town – bike around town – and bus home. It’s perfect for the non-athlete. Plus, the bus schedules being what they are – my errands are on my time.
So, next up – after the end of a work day, I coast over to an RTA stop that will take me directly home. That’s the beauty of the bike. Normally, I would catch the convenient stop right in front of work. But with two wheels, going a different direction for about a mile makes a lot of sense to bypass the need for a transfer. And when I got there – I kept going! It was a nice day. I had on a decent pair of shoes. I just kept rolling right along until I could roll on flat land no longer. Chilled on a nice stop with a bench and waited for my bus.
Evening Activities: And guess what? It’s my wedding anniversary! Me and my guy had dinner plans to check out the new Meadowlark location. He offered to drive, but since this is the definition of “for better or for worse,” he rode along with me. Straight shot there and back. First bus was about five minutes late, but on a nice day hanging out with good company – that’s no big deal. Now, I did have to keep an eye on my watch a little more than I would have if we would have had a car in the parking lot, but the way the schedule worked, we got there around 7 and were able to enjoy a couple hours of dinner and drinks before being outside to catch the next bus. Not too bad at all! And the final bus back home? Just fine.
So, overall: a very nice carless day. I will grant you that the weather was ideal and I can’t count on that all the time, but I was happy to enjoy it. Days like today make me think I can do this more often. I’m going to have to experiment more with RTA and my bike, but if the weather is right, the financial cost isn’t too much, and the schedule is open – I could make this a thing once or twice a week. I’m giving two thumbs up (for today) to the RTA/bike combo. We’ll see what tomorrow brings, but for today – I feel happy of myself. Rock and roll…