I’VE GOT A GOLDEN TICKET
I left the house a tad early this morning, ostensibly to do a little exploration of Union Station and to buy my October Metrolink pass. I ended up amused and amazed at the significant, overwhelmingly positive, changes September brought to me.
Over the last three weeks I’ve learned a lot about urban commuting by (electric) bike & train, met some new friends and found a new sense of myself & those around me.
Los Angeles is an outstanding, bicycle-friendly city. I travel frequently to major metropolitan areas. None of them are as convenient, supportive or as well suited to the needs of a bike lifestyle. I couldn’t even think of trying this in NYC. The potholes alone would lead to my certain demise. San Francisco would be OK but the combination of twisty streets and generally short runs between stoplights would get annoying. Dallas doesn’t have a significant mass transit system. Boston is like the worst of San Francisco and NYC combined (but I would still move there in a heartbeat). Love Chicago, but the weather would be prohibitive. I hear that Portland (Oregon) is a biking Mecca, but it’s not a major city like the others.
My hometown, Los Angeles, has inadvertently, and unexpectedly, created a niche for those of us willing to escape the confines of a rolling prison (a.k.a. a car). The weather is a no-brainer. The long stretches between traffic lights, designed to keep the cars moving, also benefit bicyclists by allowing them to fully unwind their legs. The wide streets, and abundant bike lanes, let you safely peddle without (much) fear of LA’s (much) vaunted traffic. Finally, the permissive, and clean, Metrolink system is a marvel. I have come to relish my quiet time between rides. This city, my city, has a sparkling jewel in the Metro system that just keeps getting better every year.
On the road, and on the trains, I have met other bicyclists and pedestrians. My very first day I met a guy named Doug who rides 8 miles a day and is a magazine editor. We meet every day at the Anaheim station to catch the 5:30 train. He gave me some great tips on both biking and the train. I’ve made friends with the Starbucks crew at Union Station who already know my order when I get to the counter. Really the biggest surprise is from the people who notice my Stromer Electric bike and ask great questions. I’m like a goodwill ambassador for the electric bike industry.
All that aside, the positive changes I’ve felt, and witnessed, as a direct result of this lifestyle change are powerful. Sure, the obvious exercise is good and helps the continued push to get my weight under a respectable 190lbs.
More importantly I’m really looking at this as an exercise in discipline. I ran the numbers:
1) This will save me almost $4,000 a year
2) I have a guaranteed 1hr 45m commute instead of a topsy-turvy 45m to potentially 2hr 30m commute.
3) Compressing my workout into my commute actually saves me almost an hour a day.
4) I am gaining almost 1hr 30m in productivity back since I can work on the train.
I just need to make my investment pay off. That’s where the discipline comes into play. If you know me, then you know how obstinate I can get. I will make this happen.
Perhaps the biggest change is not with me but with my family, friends and co-workers. There have been two kinds of reactions, supportive concern and doubting reticence.
Supportive concern is easy to understand. This is a big change. No one wants to see me get hurt but they get why I am undertaking this grand adventure.
The doubters are a bit trickier. They don’t doubt because it’s silly but rather because they can’t see themselves going the same route…and that’s precisely why this is important to me.
The whole reason behind this adventure is to prove to myself that I can conquer just about anything, efficiently and effectively.
This is my Everest. I am imagining, and living, the art of the possible.
Getting my weight under control, saving money, going green, taking mass transit, saving time, stop wasting time in traffic and doing what so many others deem to be impossible.
So next time you see me, you’ll understand why I have huge grin on my face. Walking around Union Station, my bike under the control of my left hand, a venti Starbucks in the other and an October Metrolink pass in my pocket, I couldn’t help but feel that I own this…and no one can take it away from me.