On 102

Dear J-

We have a good crew of people in the mornings headed south here on Train 102. I’m pretty sure they’re all convinced I’m writing about them (who is that guy who keeps on typing day after day, night after night?) but so far I haven’t in all but the broadest strokes and I intend to keep it that way. I try to figure out schedules through observation but aside from that there’s no need to keep detailed notes or dossiers on other riders. I think. If they’re semi-regular riders I wonder where they’ve been when they’re not riding; one guy I overheard said he usually bikes the whole way between his stops and more power to him; I like the bike but not quite to the extent that I’d substitute the whole commute for it. According to Google, it would be a two-hour commute by bike, each way.

Still, it’s better than before, and I can be as social (or anti-social) as I want on public transportation; at least as much as wearing a screaming lime-green vest will allow. The other day I looked at a bike with what the guy called a 48V mid-motor, hanging off the front crank; he’s put approximately 20,000 miles on the bike in the last three years (twenty miles a day, five days a week, fifty-two weeks a year) and I just had to shake my head in awe as he demonstrated how strongly it accelerated away. It’s going to be a lot easier to convince folks that electric bikes are a good alternative than it will be to get everyone on a bike everywhere you go. There’s something more egalitarian about the bike car on the train anyway, and folks are genuinely interested in each others’ equipment, so to speak.

On the other hand there is a lot of ego-driven satisfaction with the bikes too; I can’t count the number of Brooks saddles or disc brakes or carbon frames or singlespeeds or whatever fancy item I’ve ever lusted over shows up on a regular basis. Some folks ride way stripped-down bikes and when I heave them around to get my bike on or off I marvel at how light they manage to be. Between my lunch and, on occasion, laptop, I’m lucky if my bag doesn’t weigh as much as their whole bike, let alone my lead, er, steel frame in a fairly modest size. I owned an aluminum bike once. It was fun and light and stiff and I only rode it for a year before abandoning it to slowly decay in a shed. Yes there is much to regret, but you get busy and days turn to months and years beyond. Take time when you need it, as you need it and do it right, not fast.



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