Biking in the Merry Month of May

It's National Ride Your Bike To Work Month and there's a lot of us out there so be kind to your fine cycling friends!

It's May and that can only mean one thing - you're going to see a lot more cyclists on the road because it's National Ride Your Bike to Work Month!  Yes, its official and me and my "people", we have several days set aside for us.  We have a Bike to work week (the 14th to the 18th), a day (May 18th) and for the kinder  (pronounced as the first part of the grade you are in before first grade) among us, a ride to school day (May 9)! 

Now there is an organization that is really behind this whole Ride Your Bike to Work thing called PeopleforBikes.org and they have some exciting ways that we can make the most of this month.  To wit (I guess that means "towards getting smarter"?);

1) Go for a type of bike ride that you normally wouldn’t: If you’re a road rider, try a mountain bike ride. If you’ve never ridden your bike to work, give bike commuting a shot. And if the ride to work isn’t something you can tackle this year, ride your bike to run an errand you would normally do by car, even if it’s just a trip to the coffee shop or ice cream parlor. Remember—forty percent of trips Americans take are two miles or less, an easy bicycling distance.

2) Introduce one other person to bicycling. Whether it’s your partner, a coworker, a family member, or just a friend, help someone find a bike and go for a fun ride. Bicycling is a pretty amazing thing, right? Why not encourage someone else to discover the activity that brings you so much happiness.

3) Participate in one or more National Bike Month events. A list of community rides can be found at the League of American Bicyclists.

Now I tend to do much of this already (much to my wife's chagrin on number 2 since I keep trying to get her to ride with me) and I've even signed up on Endomondo for the New York Bike Challenge.  All of this (hopefully) means that a lot more people will be out there doing what I do many (if not every) day of the week - especially since this has been an incredibly mild winter.  Indeed, one of the things that I get to do on occasion is talk to the Syosset High School Driver's Ed classes about sharing the road with cyclists.  I even get to show them the scar I have on my arm from getting doored by a motorist at 24 mph (I was going 24 mph, the car was standing still).

You see, in the seven years that I've gotten back to cycling seriously (say that three times real fast) I've been hit three times by motorists.  One was a hit and run on Pulaski and Lennox Road, one was a "right hook" on Father's Day by a guy who was late opening up the pet shop and he just HAD to make that right turn into the parking lot in front of me, and the latest time was when a motorist who was late for a brunch date decided to fling her door wide open without checking to see if any cars (or fast moving cyclists) were coming down the road.

So over the seven years I've managed to log roughly 3,000 commuting miles (those I do riding to and from work, I don't count the weekend "fun" rides with the club) per year and I've been hit three times.  That equates to roughly one hit per 7,000 miles.  Since I've ridden about 2,800 miles since my last "hit" I have 4200 miles to go before the next one.  With the Ride Across America being roughly 3700 miles I figure I should be safe - as long as I keep my eyes open.

But back to my main point - this month is Ride Your Bike to Work Month and as a matter of fact, I kicked off the month by riding to the afforementioned school on May 1st, despite the fact that it was coming down in buckets and I felt a bit like a drowned cat at the end.

But surprisingly enough I had a great time.  Despite the wet I felt like I did when I was a kid going to high school back in Germany and we rode in all types of weather without the benefit of high tech cycling rain gear - we just got wet and enjoyed it.

And because I'm trying to train for any weather conditions I took the long way to work on this first of May which was 15.2 miles as opposed to the short route which would have gotten me there 10 minutes faster. I just figured since I was going to be squishy already, I might as well go the full squishy distance. 
And I was certainly feeling surrounded by water by the time I finally arrived at school.  Sort of like Dory's friend "Squishy" from Finding Nemo.

But there's nothing like the feeling of starting the month of May (National Bicycling Month) by riding to work!  And add to that the fact that I'm really gaining the added benefit of training for the Ride Across America it makes it even more enjoyable.  So far I've managed to log in 1372 commuting miles since the beginning of January and I've probably added another 350 or so in "pleasure miles", that is rides I've done on the weekend just to get in some more mileage.  My goal is to try to get well over 2000 miles before we leave in June.

So you will see lots of us out on the road this month - I just hope you (as my friends in the driver's education class certainly do) remember that we're not targets and you don't extra points for hitting us as this motorist in California apparently thought.  (I must warn you, its a youtube video taken from an ABC News report and can be a bit disturbing).  I have to say after watching this it makes me extremely nervous about riding in California - good thing I'll be taking a camera with me - I just may have to keep it rolling the entire time I'm in the state.  Hopefully, since it IS Ride Your Bike to Work Month, someone will put out a PSA this month about NOT hitting cyclists so we'll have an opportunity to live longer.

And just on the hopeful chance I DO survive riding through the bottom part of California and you, dear reader, feel compelled to congratulate me on my death defying act by donating to the children of Sunrise Day Camp you can click on the above link or just click  here if scrolling up is to taxing right now.

So now, after all of this talking of riding in the Merry Month of May, I think I'll go for a ride.  Anyone want to join me?  A spin?  A commute?  A merry jaunt? And if you haven't already, feel free to "like" us on facebook and follow more of our cycling adventures this merry month of May!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Papa Tom May 15, 2012 at 12:39 AM
I commute to work by bicycle whenever weather permits. The streets of Syosset and Woodbury are not exactly conducive to it, with so many motorists focused on their iPhones behind the wheel; however, after almost 40 years of experience on these roadways, I feel like I know my way out of any jam. If you're comfortable sharing the road with automobiles, I strongly recommend taking this opportunity to try bike commuting, whether to the office, to the train station, or to a park-and-ride. The rush is exhilarating and the things you'll see along the way will hook you the very first time.
Papa Tom May 15, 2012 at 12:44 AM
PS: I rode to work on this, the first day of Bike To Work Week, and I hope the weather holds out for tomorrow and the rest of the week. It looks like heavy rain, though, and I just can't show up all soaked. Can I apply last Friday's ride to work as credit?
Madeleine Berg May 21, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Does it count if I don't ride my bike to work, but I do ride my bike for work? I'm training a bunch of girls for the century ride to Montauk next month. See you on the road!


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