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jueves, 11 de agosto de 2011

Adventures in bike commuting

Published by Katie in her blog España Profunda. An American in Madrid

Two months after the trial run, I started bike commuting. Turns out I needed a little push to finally make it happen, which came in the form of a wholehearted endorsement from a bike commuter friend. Granted there had been a fair amount of rain in March, and in April I was away for half of the month. But on May 3 I said, alright, enough with the excuses: let’s do it. Now it’s been five weeks of riding to work a minimum of three days. This week I went by bike every day. And like anything, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

Aside from a few critical points (usually big intersections or circles), the ride is simple and very pleasant. It takes me an average of 50 minutes to get to Begoña, where I catch the city bus to school, and then 45 minutes to ride back home down all the hills I climbed in the morning. In total it’s about 20 kilometers (roughly 13 miles) round trip. Here’s the route map.

My bike has been performing wonderfully. I’m pretty happy that someone stole my saddle a few months ago—the new one I have is pretty sweet and wasn’t more than 40 euros. Fenders would be a good addition, though I am toying with the idea of getting a new bike when I’m back in the States this summer. But I’ll always have a place in my heart for this bici.

Some thoughts and observations from the commute:

There’s nothing like riding through an empty Retiro Park at 7.30 in the morning.

Even if first I have to ride up this:

Learning the traffic light times and patterns helps a heck of a lot with the trickier spots. If I time this circle right (I have to go left, but cross the whole thing to get there), it’s amazingly easy.

It’s pretty fun to see where you’re headed a few kilometers before actually getting there. Feels like hiking when you can finally see the summit.

Bonus: where you’re headed—even if it’s the Towers of Mordor—looks pretty cool up close.

A testament to the ayuntamiento’s attention to cyclists: the bike parking area near where I park at Begoña has been stripped clean of its steel “U”s and all that’s left is the sign. Sad, really. Guess I should be glad that I’m not locking to something that can be pulled right out of the ground.

Shoutouts to Aalto and MiguelS, my original guides, over at; Villarramblas for figuring out the route, being my Tuesday morning companion (when he doesn’t oversleep), and making some really awesome cycling maps of Madrid; I. for pushing me to stop bellyaching and just ride; and to the random cyclists I’ve met along the way.

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