Friday morning I rode my new bike to work for the first time. For ten miles in the dark countryside it was just me and the bike with a steady beam of light guiding our way. I have biked on this road in the dark at least three times a week for over a year, but the route suddenly felt different, shorter. My eyes bugged out of my head when I pulled into the parking lot at work, saw the display on the bike computer and realized that my commute took me 34 minutes. My first reaction was to look at my bike in awe, my second reaction was to ask myself, “Does this mean I can sleep in longer?”
But just to make sure yesterday wasn’t some sort of fluke or miscalculation, I woke up at my regular time this morning. After getting dressed, walking my dogs and throwing everything I needed for the day into a pannier, I set out on the road. Thirty-five minutes later I made it to work. It is affirmative: I get to sleep in later!
I am still not sure how long it takes me to get home, however. On Friday I forgot to check the time. As for today, well, my ride home was more interesting then normal.
Last night my dad came over and switched my bike rack from my mountain bike over to the road bike for me so that I didn’t have to wear a backpack to work. I love using panniers, unless of course I don’t clip them on correctly, which I believe was my downfall today.
My shift over, I was excited to get on my bike and see how long it would take me to get back home. I knew it would probably be take longer than coming into work due to increased traffic and the elevation change working against me, but I figured it would still take much shorter than on my mountain bike.
I was pedaling at a decent clip when I went over railroad tracks. All of a sudden my pannier decided to save me from an unknown danger and the heroic bag wedged itself between the rear wheel and bike rack, disregarding its own safety to halt my forward progress.
Pannier’s are an effective braking system, their only fault is that they aren’t very smooth in doing so. One moment I was pedaling happily, the next I was sliding all over the shoulder of the road at a rapidly decreasing pace. Thankfully, I have experience with fishtailing bikes from this winter (although nothing so wild and unexpected) so I was able to keep the bike under control until it slowed to a complete halt. I also unclipped properly and set my right foot down on the ground.
Somehow I still managed to topple over. Into the road, no less. But God kept me safe, bike and all. I never had a problem with a pannier twisting around and getting caught, I will be much more careful in the future.
But even though I fell over, took time to calm down and firmly reattach the wayward pannier, stopped again before going down a hill to make sure everything was fine and biked in a subdued manner for the reminder of my ride – I still made it home before four o’clock. Commuting with a road bike is awesome!