Why I chose to ride
As a daily transit rider my commute is easy: I get on the bus at the Bellevue Transit Center, tap my ORCA card and then I read or chat with my bus buddy until the I reach my stop in downtown Bothell. From there it’s either a 15-minute walk or a 5-minute drive to my house. With that being said, for bike month, I thought I would shake things up a bit. I’ve spent many Saturdays riding on the Sammamish River trail with my wife and son, often riding the 8-mile roundtrip from Bothell to Woodinville for lunch. But only on rare occasions have I ventured off the trail system or the suburban streets of Bothell. That all changed last Friday, the first day of Bike Month and Cascade Bicycle Club’s Bike Month Challenge.
Actually it changed in February when I started riding the stationary bike to rehab from a soccer injury. As I started to build my endurance in the gym, I thought to myself—I can cover the 17 miles from between my office and home. But I didn’t want to commute on my mountain bike, so I sought out a quality and inexpensive road bike. I visited a couple of shops and a week before bike month started I found a two-year-old Raleigh for $450. After completing a couple of trail rides, it was finally Bike Month.
My first bike commute
On the morning of May 1st I rolled the bike out of the garage and made the short ride to the bus stop. I put my bike on the bus (always be sure you tell the driver before you mount or dismount your bike from the bus’ bike rack), and as always I cruised to Bellevue in the HOV lane. I was looking forward to my first bike commute home at the end of the day as I bussed into work with my bike on the front of the bus. At the end of my day I geared up (I find padded bike gloves, cushioned bike shorts and a helmet to be required riding gear—I also recommend wearing bright colored clothing), hit start on my Strava app to track my mileage and route and started north on 108th Ave NE.
I must admit, despite countless reassurances and conversations with cyclists in Bellevue, I was extremely nervous. But as I peddled along 108th Ave NE before turning east onto NE 12th I felt more comfortable than I had expected. There was some trepidation as I approached 116th Ave NE, where I would head north and continue to ride with traffic until I reached Northup Way. But once I turned on Northup Way and as I covered the final stretch before turning onto NE 24th to connect with 520 trail (an off street path), I experienced a sense of relief, knowing I had overcome my fear. Once connected with the 520 trail nearly the rest of my trip was on an off street path. In all the trip took me just over one hour, about 15 minutes longer than my bus/drive trip would have taken and about the same as my bus/walk commute; and I was able to skip the gym.
As I write, one week has passed and I have repeated this commute twice, and today’s commute will bring my total to four. I am gaining confidence, feeling empowered and wondering why I waited so long to try this. Since my first ride I have committed to investing in a couple of items to enhance the safety and comfort of my commute. As mentioned above a helmet is a must, so is a headlight that is visible up to 500 feet away and a rear reflector or red light (I recommend a red light). While I already had the items listed above, I also recommend a spare tube, bike pump, and a bright colored/reflective shirt or jacket. Additionally, a bike multi tool and tire levers are must have accessories. If you have questions about bike commuting let us know, we would be happy to share tips with you and discuss options that may work for you.
Choose Your Way Bellevue & On The Move Bellevue