I'm still waiting on the next step of the interview process, but things are moving forward jobwise, and since it's absolutely beautiful today, I decided to take my bike for a ride along the trail that may one day become my commute. The drive to the office is 7 miles, but it's 9 miles by bike, since I won't be taking the freeway. I don't know this part of town
at all, so I figured I'd take advantage of the nice weather and all the spare time I have for getting lost and just see if I could figure out at least the first part of the commute.
There is a trail, but it's only the middle part of the ride. Before that, I have to wind down like 15 different roads, and there are another 15 or so after the trail to get to the office. It is a well known fact that I am terrible with directions, so it's going to take me a while to memorize such a complicated route. Never mind the fact that I'm not really in good enough shape for a 9-mile bike ride right now, and my bike is a $90 POS I got at the grocery store. A new bike will be the first thing after seahorses that I buy if this job offer comes through. Anyway, I studied the route for about half an hour, committing it to memory as well as I could, and finally set out. Most of the roads have bike lanes, and the ones that don't are very residential, but there are lots of left turns, which means crossing over from the bike lane to the turn lane, and then of course making the turn. It's that crossing over part that wigs me out the most. I just can't turn around far enough while riding to get a good look behind me to see if there are cars coming up on me. What's the best way to handle this situation? Is there a trick to it? Because I'm kind of scared that I'm going to peek behind me, not see anything, and then glide myself right out into the path of a fast-approaching Subaru. (That's pretty much the only car that exists in these parts.) I guess between making the hand signal and checking as well as I can, I should be okay...this part of biking just scares me. Also, there are lots of 4-way stops in my neighborhood. If I'm on a bike and I'm going straight, I just ride up to the front of the line, stop, and then proceed when the opportunity arises, staying in the bike lane the whole time. But what's the protocol if I'm turning left? Stop and wait my turn in the line of cars? That's what I've been doing. It just feels strange -- I've never really seen what other bikers do in this situation.
Anyway, the ride was lovely. I caught glimpses of Mt. Hood at various points along the ride, and I never felt threatened by the other traffic on the road...just really hesitant at all those left turns. I rode about as far as I figured I would be comfortable backtracking, which just happened to be almost exactly to the point at which I had stopped memorizing the route. I came back home without any problems and mapped it, hoping to see that I'd gone a nice long way. I didn't time it so I have no idea how long I was out, but out and back was 4.6 miles. I was pretty tired by the end of it, so I know I'm going to have to improve my endurance before I even think about taking on a commute that's twice as long each way. I also need to figure out what I'd do about clothes -- I get pretty sweaty. Any logistical tips are much appreciated. I'm really thankful this area is so bike-friendly. I just wish I were more bike-savvy. I do think that upgrading to a nicer bike will make the ride somewhat easier, because I did a decently long ride in Brooklyn when I was there and it wasn't challenging, really. Maybe part of what wears me out is stressing about traffic.