The honeysuckle is blooming in Washington, D.C. How do I know? I couldn’t help but notice it as I biked home yesterday from work on the path along Rock Creek. Biking by the walls of vines in the sunshine, the cool breeze along the creek brought me whiffs of honeysuckle aroma that took me back to summer days exploring the backyard and woods during my childhood in Georgia. I wouldn’t have even know the honeysuckle was out if I were in a car, on a bus, or in the constantly dysfunctional Metro subway system. But I was out in the open air, riding along the path on my long neglected mountain bike.
In anticipation of my move to Tokyo in June, I temporarily moved into a basement apartment in Columbia Heights. The apartment is located on the other side of the park from where I used to live but still very close to the green oasis of Rock Creek Park. The park extends up D.C.’s north west quadrant from downtown, expanding and taking you further into “the country in the city” the further north you go. It’s one of the great perks to living where I do.
Though moving can be a pain, it allows you that break of habit and ritual that is needed every once in a while. This break can give the opportunity to try new things. For me, it was the chance to try biking to and from work. It’s 5.5 miles to the office, so we’re talking 11 miles round trip. Yesterday it took me 35 minutes. Today I got to downtown in 29. It’s not a race but I like to measure distance, time, and speed using Run Keeper, a very handy smart phone app that allows me to monitor and record exercise while tracing the route with GPS. I’m only two days into the month of commuting but I’ve already noticed the benefits. The exercise is great, and I’m riding along a path through some very beautiful land. I only have to ride on roads with cars for the first and last half mile or so of my commute. This makes the bike ride much less stressful and less dangerous. I also don’t have to pay bus or train fare, and I get the added bonus of boycotting a public transportation system that is pretty decent by American city standards but with which I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with over the last several months. One more plus is that after the big hill (great hill to coast down on way to work; an as yet unscalable hill to bike up when coming home) leading from Columbia Heights into the valley where Rock Creek runs, the ride is nearly flat. It’s really a pretty great way to get to work. I also love zooming by all the cars on Rock Creek Parkway that are stuck in traffic.
I’ve just started this change of commute so it remains to be seen if I’ll stick with it through increasingly hot and humid days and inevitable thunderstorms and downpours. But there’s a shower and locker room at work where I clean up and change into suit and dress shirt (I’ve stocked the office closet) and so far it’s been a good change. I’m optimistic I can keep going. How to get home after a Happy Hour or work event will be one possible wrinkle as leaving the bike at the office would leave me unable to bike to work the next day (the buses do have bike racks on the front if I were to take the bus home). I suppose I could run to work once or twice a week as needed. That would be good for cross training, too. We’ll see if my volition and (and my sore derrière) can continue the routine long enough for it to become the de facto way I get to and from work.
[Images by author]