I finally rode my bike to work.
I decided to do my 'trial ride' on a Saturday when there is less traffic and less chance of me being hit by a distracted and road-raged driver. Lee wanted to ride with me so that he could come to my rescue if anything happened during my 8-mile commute such as a flat tire... I've changed mountain bike tires but have not yet changed a road bike tire and didn't think the ride to work was the place to start. We packed up my backpack with all the crap I need for work (i.e. my uniform, shoes, stethoscope, food for a 12-hour shift) and headed down the side streets in the direction of Cedars.
The ride was slow-going at first because we took a street that has a stop sign almost every block... but the alternative is either Wilshire or Santa Monica Blvd with neither being very bike-friendly streets. We got to the point were we had to get off the side streets and brave Santa Monica Blvd and man, is it scary! Cars whizzing past at 45 + mph, roads zig-zagging and merging with no thought to the exposed bicyclist.... and that was all before we got to Beverly Hills! Once we got onto 'little' Santa Monica Blvd (to those of you who are local, you will know that there is, in fact, a 'little' and 'big' Santa Monica Blvd) it was even scarier because there is no bike lane and you have big Mercedes, BMWs, Ferraris, and Bentleys trying to turn onto Camden and Rodeo to do their couture shopping!!! I guess if you're going to be hit on your bike, the place to do it is on Rodeo Drive by a $100,000 car... slow-moving, of course.
We made it to Cedars unscathed, found a bike rack, and locked up my bike. When we had cooled off and rested a bit, Lee looked at me and said, "Man, that bike commute blows.... " I couldn't agree more.
I actually felt pretty good going into work and was energized to start my day after conquering the urban jungle on my Cannondale. Fast-forward to 4 a.m. and I was dreading the thought of getting back on my bike after having worked 12-hours. This was also because I had a rough night at work with very busy patients. By 7 a.m. I was cursing my decision of riding to work but I had no choice but to get back on my bike and start pedaling in the direction of the beach. Lee offered to come pick me up, but I needed to see this 'riding to work' thing out.
L.A. on a misty Sunday morning is quite beautiful. With no honking cars and lumbering buses to tangle with, the ride home wasn't all that bad. I made it home in decent time and I even felt pretty awake and clear-headed, which is sometimes uncommon after working all night. Lee met me at the door, kissed me and welcomed me home.
So I'm not sure I will ride my bike to work again any time soon. Fundamentally I really want to get rid of my work commute via car and become part of the 'bike to work' movement. Realistically, I want to arrive at work alive. L.A. is not a bike-friendly city and I don't see it becoming that anytime soon... that is unless they just make the 10 freeway a bike-only road (how cool would that be?!?)
One last thing... when I got down to my bike at 7:30 a.m. after my shift, I had a sticky note on my seat with a phone number and 'Call me' written on it... and my bike pump was missing!!! I guess that was my sign that biking to work isn't such a good idea.
I do know that the 704 bus goes straight down Wilshire and drops off less than a mile from Cedars. The bus may be my next big adventure in getting to work. In the meantime, I'll keep biking for fun and not for a way to get around.