I signed up for Winter Bike to Work Day tomorrow. For one thing, whoever's managing their website and social media is just so endearing about it. They've created a sense of friendly competition between cities and countries, and the interactive map with a snowflake for each rider has been a lot of fun.
I've been cheerleading it online (Come on, Ottawa! Montreal's still kicking our butts! Are we just going to take that?), and then my friend Ian, in London, ON, told me I'd convinced him and he was going to take the bike to work even though he normally doesn't ride in the winter. At that, I realized that for me not to ride to work that day would be downright weird.
Here's the catch. If I was working at my office downtown it wouldn't be a problem - about half an hour, depending on conditions. I do it a lot anyway.
But my life being what it is, I have a couple of different gigs. One of them is way out in the back woods of Gatineau, on the other side of the river in Quebec. And lucky, lucky me, the guy I work for wants to work tomorrow.
That would make my route to work look something like this:
Yup, that's 34.7 km, 2:17 in good (read: summer) conditions. Also note: that bit on the Quebec side where it hugs the river is the Voyageurs Pathway, which is part of the Route Verte - a lovely, fairly widely renowned cycling network - and one that I'm willing to bet isn't cleared in winter. Not enough to actually ride on anyway.
So I bemoaned my fate on Twitter:
Oh dear: work scheduling means THIS is my #wbtwd route. Maybe I can bike *some* of it. . . ?https://t.co/aeD1r342iGTo which @WinterBike2Work replied:
— Kathryn Hunt (@k8thek8) February 7, 2015
@k8thek8 Its a deal.Okay, so this will take some doing, I thought, but I can do it. Today I had to drive out to Quebec. So this morning I wrestled my bags and my bike, with my travel mug in one semi-free hand, down to the parking garage, then spent a swear-inducing several minutes trying to get the front tire off and the (utterly filthy) bike loaded into the back of the car, while attempting not to get salt stains on my clothing. (I failed at that last bit rather spectacularly). And dreading having to put the front tire back on in the cold.
— WinterBiketoWorkDay (@WinterBike2Work) February 8, 2015
I'm working in Quebec till 5:00. Then I have to do a radio program tonight until 7:00, at which point I will leave my car. . . somewhere. . . and get on the bike to ride home.
And then I'll be committed, because I will only have the option of the bike come tomorrow morning, so I'll get up, get on the bike, ride to the car, wrestle the bike back into the back of the car (this time covered in all-new, fresh slush and salt and grit), and drive the rest of the way to work - and time it so I'm not late. So far so good. Now to figure out where I can leave the car overnight without getting a ticket, or towed, or plowed in, or . . .
So here's what's been reinforced here. Biking is really easy. Driving is less easy (and more expensive), because you have to actually put the car somewhere. And a bastard hybrid of biking and driving is a royal pain in the butt.
And a cheerful, friendly, fun social media presence will make me do things that are a royal pain in the butt for no good reason. Dangit, Winter Bike to Work Day.