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Columns: Get on that bike and ride

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columns Farmington, 55024
Farmington Independent
651-463-7730 customer support
Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

May, it turns out, is National Bike Month. That should be good news for me. Anyone who reads this column on a semi-regular basis should have figured out by now I ride my bike more than most people would consider sensible, and now we've got 31 whole days dedicated to making at least a small dent in the number of drivers who are a threat to do me mortal injury any time I throw a leg over my Bianchi.

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At least, that's the idea. In reality, I'm not sure anyone other than Bike Month organizers and journalists trolling National (Blank) Month calendars looking for easy stories know they should be paying any more attention than normal to two-wheeled traffic.

There should be more of that than usual this week. This week is National Bike to Work Week. Friday is National Bike to Work Day, which seems just a little bit redundant. But, whatever. Bike extra hard on your way to work on Friday, I guess.

This week Americans -- at least those of us who still have jobs -- are encouraged to pull that old 10-speed out of the garage and and huff and puff our way to the office this week. We're supposed to do it in the name of improved fitness and a reduction of dependence on foreign oil. Let our pedals set us free!

Or, if you'd rather, do it in the name of annoying drivers who think they're the only one with the right to be on the road. Everybody has their reasons.

And don't worry. On Monday, we can all go back to driving.

I've considered commuting by bike. It would save me a lot of money, what with gas prices on the way back up. And it would help me stay in shape. But somehow, it's never exactly seemed practical.

Living 35 miles from your office and frequently finishing your work day after 8 p.m. makes the idea somewhat less appealing. When your day involves frequent trips around Farmington, things get even trickier. I'm still a little traumatized by the fact I got unsolicited deodorant in the mail last weekend. I'm not sure I could handle showing up for interviews sweaty and breathing hard from the ride over.

The League of American Bicyclists suggest riding slowly. That's fine if you live five miles from the office, but if I rode 10 miles per hour, which the league reports is the average speed of the bike commuter, my one-way commute would take a little over three hours. On an average eight-to-five workday, I would leave home at 4:30 a.m. and get home at 8:30. Somehow, this doesn't seem like a good idea.

Still, I like the concept. Biking is great exercise. It's a lot of fun. And the more people there are doing it the fewer there are to give me the finger while I'm riding in a clearly marked bike lane, or to pull out in front of me in a roundabout, apparently having amended the "yield to traffic in roundabout" rule with "unless said traffic is small enough you can crush it with your SUV and never even feel a bump."

I guess that's something.

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