A Lovely Commute

Today was a great day of cycling. I rode over 33 miles to and from work without incident — unless we count mother nature 🙂

morning commute

Morning Ride
The morning ride was a thing of beauty. The air was brisk but comfortable enough to ride in shorts. We had 5 cyclists and I drove the bus when we got to University. I usually stay in the back (so I can draft and not have to lead) but Jason rode in the back so he could capture unobstructed video behind his bike. I was amazed that I managed to average 14 mph while riding in front.

Jason took this photo on University Blvd between Goldenrod and Hall. Notice how few cars there are on the road. It is not because it’s not busy during this time of the day; it is because the platoon of cars passes us after the intersection, then we get the road to ourselves for at least a minute or two before the next platoon is released. Traffic usually builds up at Dean and at Rouse, and even we have to wait through a cycle or two at those red lights. Traffic was particularly thick near Rouse today for some reason, so we pulled off at the gas station to let the platoon pass and then get the road to ourselves again until we got to UCF. This costs us 30 seconds at most, but it’s a more pleasant experience for us and the motorists alike.

Lunch Ride
My main office is in Research Park, about 2 miles from UCF, but I was on campus for meetings in the morning. After lunch, I rode the 2 miles to my office. It was certainly warmer and windy by then but it’s a short enough ride to still be pleasant.

Afternoon Ride

riding in the rain

When I left my office, it was overcast and the air felt like rain was coming. I rode the 2 miles to campus, successfully negotiating my way out of the bike lane at the intersection with a new strategy. We debated for a while what to do about the impending rain (we could hear thunder and see lightning in the distance), but finally decided to head out to meet our 4th cyclist at Rouse. As we approached the Wendy’s, we could see the wall of rain approaching so we decided to take the trail as it looked like the rain was heading in a different direction. We waited at the intersection to cross onto Rouse and saw the rain inching ever closer and finally drenching us. By the time we got to Blanchard Park, it had slowed but it didn’t fully let up until after we were past the park. It actually made for a very pleasant ride as the trail was empty.

Once we got to Hanging Moss, a 2-lane road, we employed the control and release technique to keep ourselves safe and still let motorists pass when it was safe to do so. It worked beautifully and I felt like a super hero every time I put my hand out to keep motorists from passing us onto oncoming traffic and then wave them through when it was clear. It’s really empowering to ride on a road like this using this technique properly. Even on a road that’s barely wide enough to share, I do not mind slinking away to the right to let a motorist past because they’ve now slowed to my speed while waiting for me to wave them through so the passing clearance needed is greatly reduced. We then turned left onto Semoran and controlled the right lane until we turned right onto Baldwin Park. We had the road to ourselves the entire time.

Leading the Dance
Driving your bike on the road truly is like leading a dance (this is a great article on the Cycling Savvy site with video demonstrating how easy it is to ride in traffic and negotiate your right of way with motorists). It is all about timing and communication. When I ride assertively, make my intentions known with clear communication, take advantage of gaps in traffic, and have confidence in those choices, my ride is exponentially more enjoyable. My stress and anxiety levels today were nonexistent. It wasn’t too long ago when the thought of riding on University Blvd terrified me, let alone riding on the outside of the lane (where I am more exposed to traffic) or on the front of the bus. But today I felt at ease and on top of the world. Even when I realized I forgot my hair products, I didn’t let it phase me. I made do with what I had. I simply felt in control of everything that transpired today and that’s a wonderful feeling.

11 replies
  1. Keri
    Keri says:

    Thanks for this!

    I had a similarly wonderful ride home from MCO yesterday. Lisa picked me up at the airport in her car, but brought a bike for me to ride home from her office. It’s amazing how well everyone gets along when we’re assertive and communicative. It felt nice to come back to Orlando and have such a pleasant trip home… FAR more pleasant than any drive I’ve taken up 436 in a car!

    BTW, Brian of CyclistView was in town last week. We got some great control & release video. Once of these days I’ll have time to edit it. And write some posts. I have a LOT of things I want to write about, but have to concentrate on work for a while.

    Thanks for keeping the blog alive!

    • Kitzzy
      Kitzzy says:

      That’s a great homecoming! 🙂

      What I also noticed is the dance that we lead with each other. It happens on all our social rides too, but somehow it is even more amazing when we seamlessly coordinate while riding a high speed road and while doing control and release.

      I guess it was just an epiphany kind of day that showed me how much I’ve grown as a cyclist.

  2. AndrewP
    AndrewP says:

    Saw you guys early in the morning on the Trail … so cool!!

    Does anyone pack rain-gear for rides, or do you guys not worry about getting wet? I got caught in the downpour on the commute home as well, but pulled out my sturdy yellow bike poncho and stayed (relatively) dry the whole way home. But I don’t see a lot of cyclists wearing them …

    • bencott
      bencott says:

      it’s not the clean water falling from the sky that bothers me, but the dirty water that gets splashed on me and slung from my tires. otherwise rain showers are nice and refreshing.

      • Diana
        Diana says:

        It would be a sacrilege to put fenders on that fixie of yours, Bencott. That wet road grime gives you some additional street cred. 😉

    • Kitzzy
      Kitzzy says:

      It’s too hot for a poncho. I carry plastic bags in my panniers to keep electronics and wallet dry. I don’t purposely ride in the rain, but I’m ok if I get caught in it. It’s not being wet that I don’t like, it’s being rained on when it’s a hard rain. I don’t like the water hitting my face. But yesterday, it was a nice rain for the most part.

  3. Diana
    Diana says:

    What a beautiful post, Kitzzy. You do an excellent job of detaling some of the nuances of Cycling Savvy that are missing from plain old vehicular cycling. Things that make riding in traffic not only feasible, but enjoyable. How cool and empowering that you are now driving the bus. Kitzzy, you rock!

  4. Rick
    Rick says:

    Some of what’s wet on the road may not be water in some parts of town. Fenders are a GOOD thing. I got caught in the rain yesterday and just got wet. I have a waterproof cover for my trunk bag since that’s where the electronics ride, but everything else gets wet. Wearing a poncho or jacket in Florida is just too hot.

  5. John A
    John A says:

    Terrific article, Kitzzy. You and Jason have created a fantastic way for people to improve their commute, all the while becoming more fit, being considerate of the economy, and educating the public about safe cycling. The “catch and release” concept demonstrates the importance and benefit of “co-existing” with traffic. You improve your safety by being in control and owning the lane, but have the option to let drivers pass when it’s safe for “the bus” to pull over for a break. Keep up the good work! John A.

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