20 October 2011

Bike Notes 6 - Nice Neighborhood

Tuesday was only the second time I got to bike to and from work. The last time didn't really count because I didn't make it home without the left crank arm falling off, and I was apprehensive about another attempt even after the repairs. I wasn't 100% sure of my ankle, either, but on Tuesday morning, I figured it was now or never.

I left a little earlier this time to try a different route, crossing EDSA via New York Ave. It was a little longer yet a much quieter ride than if I'd taken Aurora; the streets were narrower and wound a bit, but it was early in the morning for what passes as suburbs in Cubao, so there was room enough for a small bike (and biker) among the tricycles and the four-wheelers taking a shortcut.

As I approached EDSA, though, my hunch about something I'd seen on Google Maps proved correct—you can't cross on streets that don't have that suggestive-looking pokey bit.

So, I made a left on Annapolis St. and went past the condo building where I would have lived if I'd been able to afford it at the time, and past a schoolkid who cried out, "Ang ganda ng bike!" (What a nice bike!), before rejoining westbound traffic on Aurora Blvd. As I turned the corner, another cyclist, this one in full Lycra regalia, passed me and also remarked how nice my bike was, and I smiled for the millionth time that morning.

Made it to work, washed up and changed my shirt, got through the day. I felt my heart beating harder as the end of my workday approached, though. Was my bike in one piece? I'd locked the wheel before leaving the garage, but that wasn't really going to stop something else from breaking or falling off. And if it was all okay, was I going to get home in one piece?

The last and only time I'd been able to bike home from work, I'd taken Aurora and gotten caught in the congestion between Stanford St. and 20th Ave., a good near-ten blocks packed with grouchy jeepney drivers, irate car owners, and tons of carbon monoxide.

Also the home of several girlie bars, a porn theater, a few hardware stores, some abandoned buildings, an interior design studio, and an evangelical church.

I didn't really want to go through that again, so I thought I'd try an alternate route home, too. I took Tomas Morato Ave., sailed (I really like this word for my bike notes; it's what it feels like) past all the cars lined up at the bottleneck, and turned right at Kamuning.

It was paradise in comparison.

I was immediately and pleasantly surprised by how few vehicles there were on that street, at that hour. On the one hand, it does cut through a "suburb" (I passed a small, nice-looking building for if I ever want to live in the area.), but on the other, it's in a generally high-traffic area and has its own jeepney route. Crossing EDSA wasn't scary, either, and Kamias, the street on the other side, was even quieter than Kamuning and much better lit than Aurora.

The only trouble I had was with the alternating uphill and downhill blocks; stoplights were often at the bottoms of slopes, so I'd have no bwelo for starting uphill once it got safe to cross.

Anyhow, I don't know whether it was before or after I crossed EDSA that this evening cool peace settled over everything. It was just so nice to travel without any machine trouble, without any fear that a bigger vehicle was going to hit me, and without anyone rudely honking, shouting, hissing, or whistling at me on the road. Everyone else just seemed absorbed in getting home without any trouble to themselves or other commuters. On top of that, the weather was good, I wasn't inhaling as much smoke, the lighting was kind of sweet, and the neighborhood took on its own sleepy charm. On two wheels, I felt as balanced as I was ever going to get, and happy.

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