My bike commute is very solitary. I ride about 23 miles round trip and I pass a few other riders on my way, but for the most part I am alone in my commute. I was terrified when I started riding. I bought my bike in 2006 and started riding to work in 2007. I had not ridden a bike since 1989 and I had never ridden in traffic, let alone Seattle rush hour traffic. I rode the same route for almost a year, before my then boyfriend suggested that avoiding the actual bike trail and riding straight through was faster. He, for once in his life, was correct. It is way faster, the bike trail is out of my way and takes about 20 minutes longer. I changed my route that day, and only take the trail in the spring to get pictures of the goslings as they come out to the trail.
My boyfriend started to work with me and I thought how nice it would be to ride with someone to and from work. He chose a different schedule than me and we only rode together a few times. To be honest riding alone was prefered to someone trying to “race” you to get there. My bike is slow and heavy, I ride it for the comfort not for the speed. I later found out from our neighbor that he caught the bus daily and only rode about a quarter mile in each direction. This was the reason he chose a schedule different than mine. The sneaky snake!
When I moved from Georgetown to Leschi, my commute went from 6 miles each way to 12.5 or so each way, depending on my chosen path. I still take the same last leg of my commute that I did when I lived in Georgetown, but the route before that can vary. I was terrified by the first leg of the ride simply because now I had to ride through part of downtown Seattle and the industrial area, on top of the flat route through Boeing field. What I have found while riding this longer distance is the peace that I feel while riding. I listen to my iPod and just process thoughts in my head. It is a type of meditation that can be very healing. I wish I had kept riding last year during my homeless phase, I might have kept a better balance.
I know when I ride to work my anger is much less intense and I let go of it much easier. When I do not ride, I snap much worse and tend to be angry for longer. I know that the ride is good for my body, the environment, but most importantly my soul. It is soul cleansing. I can process things that have happened and arrive with a new perspective and a renewed vow to let it go.