Tuesday, February 8

Deja Vu Sorta

New Gas Station Along the Old Route
Cheap Coffee and Hot Dogs for Cyclists
They say you can't go home again. In some ways you can't go to work again. Well, at least if you go to where you USED to work, it just isn't the same. Not exactly, anyway.

Since mid November, as reported in this post, I haven't commuted to Fort Worth Alliance Airport any more - until today. It was Deja Vu All Over Again, and then it wasn't.

For those who don't know the particulars, I regularly made the 40-mile roundtrip commute from home to Alliance Airport from April 2009 through Remembrance Day of 2010. During that time, I put the better part of 6000 miles on Buddy, more miles on other bikes, and I and learned a lot about how a transportational cyclist can successfully operate in a vehicular manner over all types of roads in all weather and lighting. Every day. My v3 commute, by comparison, is about 7 miles each way. The difference is a lot more than just the mileage, as I was reminded today. I did the old commute again because I needed to take care of some administrative stuff with my engineers at Alliance, and I expected it would take pretty much the whole day. I looked forward to deja vu on the old commute with a little trepedation mixed in. It'd be fun, but sometimes reliving old experiences reminds us of what we didn't enjoy rather than our memories that grow fonder with the passing of time.

It all started out real familiar. I rolled out of bed about 45 minutes earlier than my new commute, and was ready to depart in plenty of time. Other than having to remember not to make an early LEFT turn, it all seemed familiar. In fact, it was SO familiar that the main difference I noticed was that the mighty P7 light eliminated any past questions about whether the video traffic signals would recognize the forward progress needs of the commute cyclist. I must say I highly recommend a bright, steady headlight to trigger those video-triggered traffic lights. In fact, I triggered them easier than my motorists along the route. About the only other differences on the way to work in were my thoughts - about 1/3 of the way to work, the thought hit me that if I were making my new commute, I'd be at work. About 2/3 of the way to work, the thought hit me that if I were making my new commute in the worst weather in recent memory, I'd be at work. Still, the ride itself seemed just like it used to be in the predawn darkness. When the sun peeked over the horizon, I was nearly at work and simply noticed a few more new houses in the developments close to the Alliance Gateway Freeway. It was as sweet as ever to head up the last stretch, and then finally move into the left turn lane to turn into the parking lot.

Then, I brought the bike inside and started to notice not everything had remained unchanged. I experienced Obamacare first-hand when I encountered our former shower that was now locked, thanks to the "nursing mother" provision. Then I found that the cafeteria doesn't have chorizo for omelets any more and they'd changed cooks. What's more, there was no green salsa. Well, none of those were strictly commute related, and there is another shower in the building. It was fun to see people who KNEW I was there because "Steve's bike is here" in the office I was borrowing. Still, Alliance seemed a little less legendary. The larger differences became apparent on the way home. Homeward bound is the real test anyway more often than not.

The first big difference was that, in contrast to early November, the trees looked dead. My daughter, Abbey A, really was the first of our family to observe that it looks really DEAD in Texas in winter.The grass looked dead too. It's Texas winter. No more color for these cowboys and cowgirls until the weather warms up seriously. Somehow, I didn't notice that change nearly so much on my new commute, but seeing dead-looking trees again that were full of leaves the last time I'd seen them made an impact that hadn't been apparent in the morning darkness.

Color or B&W, the Scenes Look Pretty Much the Same. Even the Grass is Beige

Gratuitous Bike Shot to Provide a Little Color
Then, as I rode along, I noticed that pockets of snow remain from last week's ice and snow event. We may not be in the snow belt, but even Texas still has some, and more is expected tomorrow. Maybe quite a bit more. We shall see. More things one didn't notice in the predawn ride in to work. There certainly was none of this stuff around last November.

Snow on a Roof in Keller, Texas

Snow Remnants in a Yard in Keller, Texas
On a more serious note, there were still remants of the gravel and sand used to provide traction near the intersections. In the predawn darkness, a cyclist could easily go down if he weren't in the habit of riding in "the line of sweetness." As it was, the sand made a lot bigger impression on me when I could actually contemplate it at the leisure of a red light. This CAN'T be good for the drivetrain!

Note all the Sand at the Intersection Approach. I Can't Remember WHY I Appear to be in the Right Wheel Track. I Usually Approach this Light
From the Right Side of the Left Wheel Track. It May Have Been the Other Photos I Took That Led Me Astray
You Don't Notice This Stuff So Much in the Morning Darkness when the Mighty P7 Makes all the Lights Change

One thing that also was different was seeing a coyote on the way home, only about four blocks from Colleyville City Hall. I've often seen coyotes on the way to Fort Worth Alliance Airport, but usually fleetingly and in the dark or dawn. This was the first time I've EVER seen one in the late afternoon in a fairly mature neighborhood. Remember y'all, keep your cats indoors! Those coyotes are more hungry than usual this time of year.

Colleyville Coyote. This is the First One I've Actually Gotten in Pixels. He Doesn't Look too Fat to Me
A Coyote in an Urban Setting at 5:30PM Suggests These Guys are Extra Hungry

There were also differences in ME. For one thing, influenced by my new commute, I wore work pants for the commute. They worked well in the 30F morning ride, as well as for the 50F evening return. High vis cuffs finished off the look and kept wind from blowing up my leg as they kept my pants away from the chain. Simple and effective - and they keep the "High Vis Police" at bay. Sorta.

Work Pants Work Well for a 20-Mile Winter Commute

What's in a Man's Purse?
Buddy was pretty much the same. About the only change from the "good old days" was the addition of the MIGHTY P7. I was very careful since it's only got three hours on the high setting and I like to charge it on the weekends. Still, there WAS time to stop for coffee on the way home. Asked where I'd been recently, I noted I'd been transferred to Hurst, but I got to to to Alliance for the day. Those baristas have memories like elephants!

Buddy and the Mighty P7, Reclining at a Store of a Major Coffee Chain I Have Neglected Recently
The final change was on the very last leg home. How THOUGHTFUL of Colleyville to add a "cyclist potty stop" at the locale where construction might cause some cyclist delay. I really hadn't noticed the added cycling facility on the way in to work.

However, in all seriousness, I think the new v3 commute has softened  me a bit. I certainly encounter a lot less motorists on narrow, two-lane roads than formerly, and there aren't any high-speed, divided roads on my new commute that compare to the Alliance Gateway Freeway. The combination of the longer distance and the tough (in spots) roads, sharpened my skills and my awareness of developing traffic situations in a way no other method could have done. I deeply appreciate those lessons, but, in some ways, you really can't go to work again - unless it's more than just for a day. I'm also thankful that I didn't complete LCI training when this was my regular route. Even as it was, there were a few moments when I felt like I represented the bike-ed version of the "Provisional Wing of the Irish Republican Army." A little softening isn't necessarily bad...
I Don't Think the "Turn Around Don't Drown" Sign Refers to the Portapotty...


Apertome said...

The coyote is beautiful!

Sand always lingers for a long time here. It helps some when there's snow and ice, but once the snow and ice clear up and the sand remains, especially in corners, it make riding on dry pavement sketchy. And yes, it wreaks havoc on your drivetrain.

Steve A said...

Apterome saying that ANY subject of any photo is beautiful is high praise indeed, considering his legendary photographic prowess. The composition of the shot was tough since the subject wasn't inclined to stick around and pose while I dug out my camera to take the shot. He actually got almost a full block from where I first saw him before I got the shot in the post. It took a couple of double-takes while he was going past a church before I realized it wasn't just a stray dog.

limom said...

You got coyotes, JRA got roadrunners.
I guess I got Foghorn Leghorn.

Steve A said...

Limon, I think y'all have cute flowers and cool volcanoes!

John Romeo Alpha said...

When you stop for coffee, do you grab and go, or savor the flavor then ride?

Steve A said...

Whenever I stop for coffee, it delays my ride at least 20 minutes. Having an iPhone with data adds to the delay. Grab and go seems like something, something a MOTORIST would do. Hmm, come to think of it, when I'm motoring and stop for coffee I DO grab and go. I do not, however, EVER go through a drive-through for coffee. Don't ask me why. I'm not sure I know myself.

Velouria said...

For a moment there I thought that coyote was a kangaroo.
I need to sleep more and work less.

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