Over the past year, I’ve taken my motorcycle for granted. After minor fishtail on the freeway (though not so minor in cost having been a responsible citizen and paid for the damage to the limousine though I could have easily have ridden off and committed a crime), my best friend bought me a car, afraid I would get into a more serious accident while commuting thirty miles to work. I drove the car and enjoyed it for 3,500 miles, but traffic has become increasingly heavy, and the amount of time to travel back and forth, not to mention the stress that comes with dealing with other drivers’ road habits, has made me appreciate trains more.
It’s so easy to hop into a car without a coat, without a helmet, gloves, boots, and other protective gear. I got used to it. Eventually, it became a chore to suit up to jump on the bike. (I could risk riding without all that protection, but would you drive a car without a seat belt? Most of you wouldn’t, I think.) Soon, I barely rode my Triumph Street Triple, lovingly named Gwen. She sat in the garage week after week, the battery needing a trickle charge twice.
I’ve always disliked long commutes. Any commute taking longer than a half hour each way to me is a waste of time, unless something productive can be done during that time, like reading, or blogging. Twenty minutes of non-productive time I can live with. Anyway, as the time to drive increased from 50 minutes – during which time I would listen to NPR – to over an hour, the stress seemed to add exponentially. NPR didn’t stop the anger stir from nearly getting my car crushed by an SUV driven by an ignorant driver who didn’t know how to look over her shoulder. (Yes, a woman driver. It could have been a man. Or a neuter.) After that experience, I no longer wanted to drive a car or a motorcycle thirty miles each way.
The best thing short of moving to resolve my commuting woes is to get to Caltrain for a good half hour of time to sit and not have to pay attention to poor drivers plus less than twenty minutes of road focus or crowded bus-to-Caltrain time. That less-than-twenty minutes is another challenge. Driving takes at least twenty minutes on a good day, plus time to find a parking spot. On a bad day… don’t even want to say.
This morning, I rode Gwen to Caltrain. It was glorious. It was freeing. It was therapeutic. It took fifteen minutes during rush hour. How could I have taken my motorcycle for granted for so long? I was near putting her up for sale because I hadn’t been riding her.
I used to get into work happy after speeding down the freeway (whenever there was room to go fast). Once again, I can carry that sense of freedom in my body as I walk into the office, something much needed after days of PTSD darkness.