Active Living Blog

On my bike I feel like a super hero.

Posted: Jan 12, 09:32 AM

BEMIDJI, MINNESOTA (January 12, 2012) – My story is about a single bike. I own one bike and I ride it everywhere I go during the spring, summer and fall months, which includes not only to work, but grocery shopping, going to the post office and bank, out on the town (if I don’t walk), and exploring parks and trails nearby my home. Writing this story has been a reality check for me. I have a single bike I demand to perform for me in varied terrain and not break down, because I’m not much of a “do-it-yourselfer” when it comes to making my own repairs on the fly.

I ride a Trek hybrid with tires that are not as skinny as they come and not as wide as the ones that were on my mountain bike I rode for years. On my bike I feel like a super hero and this two wheeled human-powered ride I zoom through town on, serves as my special weapon. Although I only boast of superhuman powers in jest, on my bike my mind is free and my body is moving in perfect synchronicity with my surroundings.

My bike commute to work is 3.64 miles one-way. Doing the math after my morning coffee, it’s a 7.28 mile roundtrip commute. This can take me between 15-45 minutes one-way, depending upon weather conditions. Strong winds slow me down considerably. The terrain I face on my bike commute is quite easy to navigate, including mostly pavement and paved trails. It’s the social and environmental conditions I face that prove most contentious on this route. I ride from the Nymore neighborhood to the north side of town by the mall. On my way to work I ride the trail that runs past the waste water treatment plant, because I prefer a continuous ride and there are no stop lights to slow me down. However, there are a couple mini-stop signs that are confusing to me. In my experience bike riders and skateboarders blow through these mini-stop signs, without regard. I think they were posted for snowmobilers in the winter; although, I’m not sure whether the snowmobilers also experience the same mini-stop sign dilemma that I do. I continue my commute through downtown Bemidji, which I ride with traffic and experience little difficulty. Roads downtown are clean and clear. This part of my commute is an enjoyable, social experience in which many times I will roll past people I know and wave. After buzzing through downtown, I head north in a straight shot down Irvine Avenue to 15th by Dave’s Pizza. Irvine is paved and has designated space between moving vehicular traffic and the curb for me to ride; however, my speed and ease of navigation on this stretch of pavement is dependent on how many cars are parked on the side of the road, which varies, and whether inconsiderate folks have trashed my route with debris or street sweepers have not adequately cleared rocks, leaves, sand, and other said debris. If it’s raining, leaves can become slick along this route, which I’m most concerned with on the downhill run when I’m at my max speed. I make the turn at Dave’s Pizza on 15th, to take the road less traveled and loop around, turning north just before the skate park. I find very few, if any cars, parked along this route and smooth sailing along the road. Terrain again is paved and the streets along this stretch of road seem considerably clearer than along Irvine. I’m not sure why that is exactly, but I appreciate the ability to zip along this route with ease. On my way home, I choose the path along Lake Bemidji for a couple reasons. I like to look across the lake, which is beautiful. But unfortunately, I also choose not to return home on the paved trail along the waste water treatment plant, because many times there is broken glass I’m not able to see at dusk or when it’s dark. I find that people dispose of glass beer bottles along this path, which I’d like to see less of. If you’re reading this and have the ability to lessen this broken glass bicycling hazard, I’d greatly appreciate it. If the timing is good, I’m able to ride home at sunset and relax breathing in the clean northern Minnesota air and watch the sun disappear over the horizon. This has been many times over the highlight of my day.

Thank you for reading my story. Please post any questions or comments you have about bike commuting and I’ll try to answer them. If you’re interested in discussing bike commuting with me in person, I’ll be presenting on this topic at Pecha Kucha on Thursday, January 19th and invite you to attend. I love riding my bike and welcome discussion on this fun and healthy way to get around town.

Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 6:30pm: Pecha Kucha at Hungry Bear Banquet & Conference Center, 2300 24th St NW, Bemidji MN 56601. This is a community event and FREE to the public.

See you on the trails!
Natalie Gille, Bemidji resident and bicycle commuter