The ups and downs of biking to work

Today was “bike to work” day at Staples. I didn’t bike all the way from home, which would be around 25 miles, but instead drove to the Staples Data Center in Marlboro, where I met up with some friends to bike the more manageable 6 or so miles from there.

The ride in was nice. The weather was nice, it was sunny, but misty and pretty cool. The route we took was mostly flat, with a big hill at the end, which was easier than I remembered. When we arrived the event sponsors gave us a goodies bag (tshirt, travel mug, pen, “I’m here to save the planet” pins, bike safety booklet) and a voucher for a free breakfast (up to $5) in the cafeteria. I took a shower (being naked at work… feels so wrong, yet so right), changed into work clothes, then grabbed my free breakfast.

I got the Heart Healthy Start Special (egg beaters, whole wheat toast, turkey sausages, and a slice of melon) and a Nantucket Nectars Blueberry and Apple juice. Normally I don’t get those juices because despite being 100% juice, they are high in calories, sugar, and price, but I had my magic voucher so I figured why not. It all came to $4.45. Damn, shoulda got one more thing, Staples got out of paying 55 cents (you get no change from a voucher). Oh well.

Then it was off to meetings and coding and whatnot, the usual day at Staples.

The ride back… woo.

To start with, it was 93ºF (the F stands for “Fucking Hot”) out. We were also riding into a pretty strong wind. And not a cool, refreshing wind. A convection oven wind. It was also just me and Ben riding back. Ben is an expert biker, and though he was holding back and waiting up for me, the pace felt faster than in the morning. Also, we took a different route back, which is somehow uphill all the way, with only one or two brief spots of downhill. By the time we reached the Data Center and my car, I was soaked with sweat, and reaching the last of my CamelPack of water (thank god for that, though, or I wouldn’t have made it).

Once at my car, I hastily shoved my stuff and my bike in the car (fold-down seats are nice), Ben continued his ride home, and I started my drive home. I barely cared which direction I was going on the highway, all that mattered was that I was in the car, with sweet, sweet AC. I really, really, really loved my car at that moment. I kept the AC cranked and pointed directly at my head until I started to get an ice cream headache.

I saw two interesting things on the way home.

First was a white minivan, adorned with the diamond-shaped signs you see on semi trucks. They read “Radioactive” and had the radiation symbol. There was a company sign on the side, I’m guessing maybe stuff for medical use. Either that or a really poorly disguised super-villain.

The other interesting thing I saw was very sad. I saw a mother duck leading her ducklings across 290. 290 at around 6pm is very busy, and everyone’s going around 70 miles an hour. She strode forward, defiant in the face of speeding cars. She did not flinch or hesitate, but moved forcefully ahead at a brisk pace. As I passed, they were in the breakdown lane, I was in the middle lane. I watched in the rear-view mirror, as they reached the first of three lanes, a car swerved into the breakdown lane around them to avoid hitting them. After that, they were too far back to see, but they had two more lanes to go, and it didn’t look like traffic slowed down. I have a sinking feeling they didn’t make it.

I got home and took a nice lukewarm shower. Ahh, clean and cool again.

One thought on “The ups and downs of biking to work”

  1. poor baby ducks. why’s their mom so dumb!? ok ok she’s only a duck…still, sheesh.

    yeah, I had the feeling your trip back was going to be less pleasant. i’m jealous of your car. and the fact that *your* car has A/C. when i finally do get my car, I’ll have to wear an ice burrito at all times when driving. mmmiceburrito…

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