Friday, March 27, 2009

The one-way bike commute

I've discovered a new way to spice up the daily trip downtown--the one-way bike commute! I'd heard of the OWBC before but only in the context of crazy long-distance cyclo-commuters. They might ride in, say 20-30 miles then get a ride or transit home. The bike stays at the office until they feel up to riding it home again.

Since my commute is only 5 to 6 miles each way, I'm pretty much always up to the return trip, and there is no faster way home for me. Also, I remember hearing from one seasoned OWBCer that things can get a little complicated. He once ended up with both bikes and his car at the office and had to bum a ride one evening to retrieve his gear. I sort of tricked myself into it, though.

I was loaning out a bike to a PSU exchange student, and I needed to get it downtown to make the handoff. I could have pulled it on the trailer or done some epic ghost riding, but I was lazy and just rode in on the loaner bike. I think I had a vague plan to ride the bus home--vague enough that I didn't bring a bus ticket or any cash along. Or my wallet, actually. Hmmm. One of those weird carfree moments of Zen.

The weather was nice enough, and nothing was pressing, so I decided to walk the five miles home. It turned out to be a pleasant way to spend an hour and a half of my evening. The next morning I was really ready to get back on my bike, too. Hmmm.

I sort of shelved the thought through the worst of winter, since I'd much rather be on a bike than on foot in cold and rain. This spring, I've been experimenting more with the OWBC, though, and I'm really enjoying it. Walking home's fun because I can take weird "urban explorer" type paths that would be a pain or impossible on the bike. I've made all sorts of fun right-of-way discoveries in the southwest hills. I've also run home twice. The distance is a little out of my comfortable running range, but it's still fun as an occasional challenge. My usual OWBC plan of attack is to ride in, walk or run home, and then bus in the next day. It really makes me appreciate the bike trip in, too, since I know I'm going to have two trips off the bike.

I'd love to add some new commute modes to the mix. I may try kicking in on Rachel's little scooter some day. I wish I knew how to skateboard--those longboards look like a relaxing way to get around. Or kayak. I'm lucky I can leave the bike in my office, since a sketchy lockup spot would kill the OWBC. If you can make one work, though, I highly recommend it!