Before I tell you what this big plan is, I need to give you the back story...
In 7th and 8th grade, while living in Farmers Branch, TX, I rode my bike to school daily.
1.6 miles each way. I don't remember if this was the 1-speed bike with the balloon tires, coaster brake, and banana seat, or if it was the new yellow 10-speed with the dropped handlebars and the rack on the back that I earned by getting good grades. I suspect it was a bit of both. I remember some winter days the cold wind made my eyes water- even when I wore a ski mask to keep warm.
While attending community college in my current town, I rode my bike to school daily.
2.3 miles each way. This was on my blue 10-speed Nishiki with the brown seat and brown handlebar tape, fenders, rack with panniers on the back, and a light on the front. We live in a hilly town- local readers will know exactly what I mean when I say I used to go bombing down St. James- hoping the light at 39th would stay green so I could use the momentum to get me up the next hill. (And so I wouldn't have to wear out my brakes!) Of course, coming back home the same route was a chore. It took me half of the first semester each year to get to where I actually rode up St. Johns, instead of getting off and walking the bike. The winter days never really had the biting cold of Texas, but the NW rain was always something to contend with. A dear lady at our church prayed that it would not rain while I was riding, and for two years it only sprinkled twice while I was on the road. It would rain before I left, while I was in classes, or after I got home, but there was almost always a window of time where I could ride dry.
It. Was. Awesome.
At WWU, I lived off campus and often rode my bike to school. 5.5 miles each way. This was also on my trusty blue Nishiki. I didn't ride every day- the weather in Bellingham is colder and wetter than here, and the hills are hillier.
There is a teacher at my school who rides to work every day. He doesn't even live in this town- he lives across the river! He's rather inspiring and it makes me think back on my bike commuting days.
Ok, here's the plan:
It's highly likely that next year, my daughter will attend the middle school where I teach.
Since I won't have to drop her off at day care in the morning, or pick her up from there in the evening... (do you see where I am going with this?) I thought it would be the perfect scenario for us to commute to school/work by bike!
Not like this:
She can't keep up with me, doesn't have gears on her bike, and isn't that good with the traffic rules yet.
That's a tandem recumbent bike. It's a LWB (long wheel base- over 12 feet long!) with OSS (over seat steering). It has fenders and a rack on the back. I got it used on craigslist for an incredible price (cheaper than listed on the link. Had to pick it up in Port Townsend- there and back in one day. My mother was not amused.). Yesterday we got it from the shop after its tune-up, and gave it a test ride. It felt really weird. So much different from an upright bike! I suppose I could have gotten an upright tandem, but after about 30 minutes on my upright I get tingles in my hands and feet and it's just not the most comfortable sitting position (some folks call upright bikes "wedgies").
Ab loves this. She asked to go riding today- even in the mist. We both are having fun learning to balance, and we plan to ride some every day this fall and winter so we are ready next school year for the commute. Total distance is 5.5 miles one way. And- drum roll please- there are bike lanes or bike paths the whole way there- even over the freeway!
So, even in my advanced years (seven squared), I am ready for a new adventure.
Lord willing, if we do this, we will accomplish 4 things:
1 We'll have fun together.
2 We'll get more physically fit.
3 We'll have to avoid McD's drive through on the way home from school.
4 We'll $ave trip$ to the ga$ pump.
I'll let you know how it goes.