We've been following along with our friend Kris and he's been posting more and more amazing stories and photos of his commuting adventures - he recently shared that he commuted 2 straight weeks and doesn't show signs of stopping... So I asked him to share some of his insight and inspiration with us:
Guest Blog: The Sacred Charge of the Commute by Kris Simons
The alarm goes off at 4:00 AM and I hit the snooze button for 5 minutes. I groggily drag myself out of bed and trip over my dog in the process. He rustles but goes back to sleep. He is off the clock and could care less as long as the bowl of food is full when it’s time for him to wake up. It’s dark in Denver except for the streetlights and glow of the fire exit sign at the elementary school adjacent to my house. I don’t hassle with making coffee but a few frozen Ego waffles and pumpkin bread in the belly and I am on my way to getting dressed to ride my bicycle to work. This has been my routine for close to seventy days this year. (With the exception of the pumpkin bread) The route is roughly a 26 mile roundtrip commute mostly on a mix of roads and bike path. Some months, I commute every day, other times once every other week. I have pedaled every month of the year though, at times in snow, through bugs, fog, rain, broken glass, and over fallen trees.
Under the cover of darkness, I begin my 13 mile trek to work as my lamp illuminates the road ahead. Sometimes the app which tracks my journey says its 11 miles, sometimes 14. Either way, the morning ride has become something sacred amidst the restlessness and curiosity of what the day will bring. I started commuting by bike three years ago as a personal challenge, just to see if I could do it. Biking was no longer the necessity of the broke college student I once was years ago. Now, my bike actually shifted well and I had some nicer equipment to make the journey more enjoyable. The route mostly sticks to the bike path with minimal exposure to groggy people driving cars amidst checking text messages and Facebook updates this time of the morning. Sitting up higher on my bike and looking down, I often see the glow of the blue screen and try to be extra cautious. It’s amazing how addicted we have become to technology. I struggle with it myself. The bike doesn’t let me surf Facebook for the one thousandth kitten meme or rant from a person mad about god knows what. My hands stay planted on the bars, affording time to pedal and watch the world go by. When I used to ride the streets of Pittsburgh ten years ago on a 7 speed Huffy, I felt this gave me a chance to listen to the heartbeat of the city and surroundings. The responsibilities and bike may have changed, but the sacred commute makes me keep this thought present and listen to the beat, not rants or kittens.
In the dark, I pedal through the drying leaves of fall which litter the path as an occasional reflection of light is bounced off the eyes of a house cat in the grass. For an hour, I pedal and weave with the turns and twists of the path. I ride technical singletrack and race bikes as a hobby, yet this commute never bores me as it is just a time to pedal, wake up, and think. It’s my metaphorical chance to plug the battery in and recharge as the rest of the day will draw down those power reserves. Deadlines to meet, boxes to check, and things to do are all on the horizon with the rising sun. But right now, I can’t do any of those things, except think about them against the methodical pedal strokes in the darkness.
I arrive at work, park my bike, change, and make coffee ahead of everyone. I arrive refreshed and ready for the day. The early arrival always feels like a head start in a race. As other people arrive in the process of waking up from the drive in, I am already sharp, alert, and charging forward. It’s a good feeling.
As the work day wanes, so does my inner battery. Hours spent on a computer, in meetings, and troubleshooting have left me drained. Though the work has been stimulating, I feel like a hollow, tired shell. More things lie ahead on the home front. I change, jet out of the office, and am soon beginning my trek home. It’s slightly downhill most of the way so I ramp up the speed with my tired legs and coast, occasionally pedaling. There is some singletrack scattered along the way that I make sure to hit. Each twist and turn is recharging me. Charging time doubles on the singletrack sections. I leave the path and hit the road, riding the last two miles to home. People are beginning to get off work and head home. I pass by the traffic jams and smile as my commute time by bike is almost as long as it would take me to drive home anymore. The infrastructure in Denver isn’t keeping up with the population growth. Yet, people forget that with a little work, the bike paths and routes through Denver are years ahead of most cities and almost as fast for my daily needs. The commute is a chance to utilize a resource that so many people write off. Meanwhile my truck sits parked at home, not a part of the idling traffic that seems to have become so pervasive here with the identity of Colorado. Need to go to work? Sit in traffic. Need to go run errands? Traffic. Want to go skiing on a weekend? Good luck even getting there in the Colorado traffic.
I arrive home refreshed, slightly tired, yet ready for more of what the world can dish out, thanks to the commute. Maybe in the end, that’s why I do it. It’s a time to collect my thoughts, think, and be ready to be present when needed. Life may tax the inner reserves of my introverted self, but the bike path counteracts those motions. Out on my commute, the battery is at 75% and rising, and the road is wide open. Perhaps that’s the sacred charge of the commute.