The Commute

Posted on December 19, 2009 by

The CommuteOn a cold Milwaukee morning, by the dim light in my kitchen, I finish my coffee and pack my messenger bag with my work boots, long underwear, spare socks, and gloves. Opening the back door I drag my Surly into the darkness and glance over at my company’s work vehicle parked in my driveway, I think to myself, “why am I doing this”? I start to feel the cold on my fingertips as I remove my glove to turn on my head and taillights. A few minutes later, as I head up S. K.K. Avenue on my way to South First Street, the cold seems to be a distant memory. First, Bay View and Walker’s Point, then the Third Ward and the Milwaukee Lakefront, with the final destination being Whitefish Bay today.

As I make my way up the lakefront, I think of my responsibilities for the day. The rising sun and surrounding beauty of Lake Michigan seems to add clarity, as if I am so immersed in my thoughts, I have no sense of the cold and wind. A sort of runner’s high, if you will.

Then, I am suddenly rudely awakened by my arch nemesis, the hill at the end of N. Lincoln Memorial Drive. This hill and I have a long history together. For almost twenty years, in various states of physical condition, I have dreaded this hill. I don’t know why. I have climbed much greater slopes without any reservations. I think it may be because of the rude interruption of my cycling “high” I have achieved along the lakefront. But over the years I have developed a strategy. I think back to childhood and the feeling I would get every time I would ride my bicycle. The feeling of independence as the wind would pass along my body. This is the feeling I still get to this day get when I ride. Suddenly the climb does not seem so bad.

Now I am finally in the North Shore coming up N. Lake Drive. I love this part of the ride, the best with its stately homes and rich history. It makes me feel of a bygone era. Arriving at my job site in Whitefish Bay , I feel energized and alert, and it’s only 6:45 in the morning.

This is the reason I ride.    What’s yours?

Comments (17)

 

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dave Reid, MilwaukeeIze. MilwaukeeIze said: The Commute: On a cold Milwaukee morning, by the dim light in my kitchen, I finish my coffee and pack my messen.. http://bit.ly/7j1M1H […]

  2. Dave Steele says:

    You hit the nail on the head. Is it easy to get on a bike when it’s five below zero? Is it easy to ride straight into a 15 below zero windchill? No way. But I’ve never gotten off a bike wishing I had driven or taken the bus instead. There’s a simple joy to riding a bike, and I’m thankful for being able to do something that brings me such joy every single day.

    I’m probably addicted to whatever chemicals are released in my brain when I ride. But it’s not such a bad thing to be addicted to that kind of natural high, is it?

  3. I was going to leave my bicycle locked outside of work today, the first work day of the New Year, so as to show off my hardiness.
    But I brought it upstairs with me so I can return to it this evening, nice and warm.

  4. Amen. You describe it well. It’s a whole process just to get READY to ride. That’s the toughest part for me–but give me 2 miles on the road and it all turns to joy. Then, getting off the bike at work and heading to the shower is beyond what I could achieve at the gym. It’s man against the elements. I won. At least that day.

  5. Emily says:

    You hit the nail on the head. Is it easy to get on a bike when it’s five below zero? Is it easy to ride straight into a 15 below zero windchill? No way. But I’ve never gotten off a bike wishing I had driven or taken the bus instead. There’s a simple joy to riding a bike, and I’m thankful for being able to do something that brings me such joy every single day.

    I’m probably addicted to whatever chemicals are released in my brain when I ride. But it’s not such a bad thing to be addicted to that kind of natural high, is it?

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