Roger Marolt: Restoring my sanity one commute at a time
What the heck is the matter with me? I don’t like riding my bike to work anymore. That used to be my thing. Just about every morning between May 1 and the end of October, I would get on my bike and pedal from my house in Snowmass Village to my office in Aspen. At the end of the day I would get back on and ride home.
It used to bother me if I had to miss a day for things like non-elective surgery or something like that. Now, I don’t care if I miss every day this summer for no excuse whatsoever.
I had my reasons for doing it. I believed it relieved the stress of dealing with rush-hour traffic and wasn’t even much slower than driving. I thought I was being efficient with my time by overlapping exercise and my commute. I believed sunshine and fresh air were good for me. I believed that one less car on the road would help everyone. I believed riding my bike was the right thing to do for the planet.
It turns out this is all true! That’s how I know something is haywire with me. I am turning my back on all this good stuff, and why? Because I am bored stiff with it, that’s why! Trust me; there is a finite number of times you can travel over any bike route, no matter how much good may come of it, before you just can’t stand it anymore. My guess is the number is 6,000 times, which I must have reached on the Owl Creek bike path sometime last fall.
This is not to say I don’t like riding my bike anymore. Now that I am riding after work and on weekends, wherever and for however long I want, I love it more than ever. My performance level has suffered. I can’t ride all day long as fast as I used to, but I can still ride all day long, so who cares? It’s not like I’m delivering the mail.
So, why do I feel so guilty about this … sort of? Ah, who am I kidding? I don’t feel guilty at all about this! I am so content sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of my Prius every morning, singing to the XM radio while staring out at the beautiful scenery around me — which you rarely really enjoy on a bicycle, by the way, because cyclists’ eyes are usually gazing straight down at the pavement — that I almost look at all those years of bicycle commuting as wasted time.
But pay no attention to what I’m saying here. I admit I have gone crazy. This is the raving of a lunatic, and you know it! You want more proof? Let’s see … proof … proof … proof. Proof! OK, here is more proof: The other day I was walking to City Market from my office and I happened to look down Hyman Avenue toward the mall. I was right across from the Aspen Art Museum, looking down the street at the fronts of all those new buildings that have gone up in the past several years.
Do you know what I was thinking? I was thinking, “These buildings don’t look so bad. They don’t look so bad at all. In fact, these buildings actually look pretty darn good!”
Now, mind you, that’s not an endorsement for developers or the greedy, egotistical motivations that oftentimes lead them to completely redo entire blocks of downtown Aspen that were just fine the way they were, but my new state of deranged honesty makes me say what I think, and I think those new buildings look pretty good. And, if not great artistically speaking, at least darn interesting.
But, that’s not all of my insanity. Now that I’m driving all the time, I am also paying attention to my driving times. You know what I found out? During the offseasons, with no traffic to speak of, it takes me about four minutes at rush hour to get from my office on Spring Street to the roundabout. Do you know how long it took last week at the height of Food & Wine madness? It took about eight minutes. So, yes, that’s twice as long, but still only four minutes longer than during the quiet months.
I understand crazy now! It is the debate about the straight-shot versus the S-curves. At best, the straight-shot has the potential to save just four minutes a day during a few of the busiest days of the year. So, why are we still talking about this? Obviously, I’m not the only one who’s nuts!
Roger Marolt is driving a hybrid through the cuckoos nest. Email at email@example.com.
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