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The Reverse Commute

December 12, 2011

I commute to my place of business by bike.  DC is a great bike-friendly city.  We have miles of bike lanes, the amazing 15th Street Cycletrack that spits you out right at the White House where you can continue your journey eastward along Pennsylvania Avenue  past the Capital and eventually head back north along the new-ish MBT.  As a result of the city’s efforts, not only will you encounter many cyclists but you may even hit bicycle congestion (it’s one of those good kinds of problems).

Unfortunately, all the benefits of a critical mass are lost on me.  You see, I am a reverse commuter.  While the majority of folks head into the city center, I travel north (and then east) away from it.  Sure, I may encounter the passing commuter, give them the slight head nod or the even slighter acknowledgement of raising 4 fingers exactly 2 inches off my handlebars (hey, I need to concentrate here, no time to get showy with my skills of acknowledging fellow riders – besides, if they’re alert they’ll see it).  But, on the whole, my commute is a lonely one.

Not that I’m really complaining.  I enjoy the hour or so of solitude for personal reflection (which lately has been about wondering if there’s snot on my face).  Even so, I still end up being way more excited than I should when I see a bike commuter going in the same direction.  As I approach them from the rear (I’m faster, unless they happen to be faster and in that case they’re probably a loser pathlete), my mind starts racing over all the things to say to them.  It’s conversation time.  Should I start with: “Hey, haven’t seen you before…” or maybe the more personal “Hey, where you headed?”  or useless banter “Hey, bike a lot?” or the always agreeable “Hey, isn’t biking great?”  Of course none of these conversation starters actually occur and instead at most we exchange the 4-finger greeting.  Until we meet again fellow reverse commuter.

No one's ever around the corner when you're a reverse commuter

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