Friday, September 10, 2010

back to school

this piece is for my bloggy chums who may be interested in the commuting part of my cycling life.
you know, the ride that gets me to work (and later on gets me home).

6:18 a.m.
wha . . . whatimeisit? ohmannnnnnnit'stimetogetup!!!

oh hey!!
it's a school day.


the morning begins with coffee - always coffee!!
two mugs of joy juice are good for me.

which mug to choose? i have six.
each has been carried over a great distance.
mostly from the black dog pottery in kingston.
i'll bike great distances to have some of marc's handiwork!
because he's my favourite potter!!
this one usually wins!

toast, bagel, either way with butter and peanut butter or jam
or sometimes cream cheese.
some days i cook an egg in butter.

i take a slow walk through the land of blogs and try to answer as many comments as i can on my own blog
before scanning the manchester guardian online, bbc online, wired, lost at e minor, and dgm.

next up is to find my lunch in the fridge where i
tucked it away the night before
(i always make my own and i used to make all my kid's lunches but
now they prefer the autonomy of creating their own),
my macbook, my dayplans, and anything i might need for the day
get stuffed in my panniers.

kisses and hugs and love to everyone.
it's really hard for me to leave my family.
really hard.
i've never grown out of that as people said i would
when my children were very little.


in the garage now.
which bike to ride?

this one gets me there in twenty minutes but carries nothing .
hmmmm gotta take the panniers today.
i've got a lot of stuff!!!

better take this one instead.

down the street.
across and through the long shadows.

in fact, i'm just a shadow of myself at this time of day . . .

to the top of cherryhill.

i get a really nice view of the city from here
but today it's a bit hazy
with the early morning mist spreading from the river across the city.

travelling east down cherryhill.
wayyyyyyy down.
i can move at fourty to fifty km/h down this hill
but there's a sharp right at the bottom
and some days i can take it without braking.
other days i feel my mortality and slow down.
it's all intuitive.
i trust the moment.

a kilometre or so later.

to the top of lansdowne hill.
again, i can usually see across the city from here but it's a hazy early morning.
still travelling east. down lansdowne hill.
wayyy down lansdowne hill.
(remember reader,
what goes down must come back -
at the end of the day -
with a load of marking, a laptop,
maybe some beers from the shop tucked
away in my panniers!
these hills are true tests of character!)

through fastfood alley.
which despite its more nightmarish features
does have a really good eighteen hole mini golf course
that ranks high on my personal fave list.

i've played mini golf in scotland, wales, england, holland, germany,
several of the united states,
and of course at many lovely courses here in ontario.

a few kilometres later
i take the bridge
over the otonabee river.

turn right and go south down river road.
so named because just behind those houses at the right
is the otonabee river i just crossed.
these lucky people have gorgeous back property
that unfolds right to the river!!!

and finally,
here i am!!!
my school.
otonabee valley public school.

i've had the privilege and joy of teaching here since 1991.

thanks for coming along!


  1. This is a terrific journey you've taken us on, Steven. I can almost smell the morning dew, taste the coffee, and peanut butter.

    Maybe because I'm particularly vulnerable at the moment following my fall and broken leg, Steven, I fear for you on those roads.

    There's a salutary blog I've taken to following: It’s about a man, once professor of literature who once rode mountain bikes and suffered a terrible accident on one that left him with a broken neck.

    It's a powerful and extraordinary blog because he and his wife together along with other map his journey back to health in the most amazing terms.

    I feel I have seen a different side of life lately, Steven, a quiet one of pain and heroism often unrecognised. I feel very grateful to be alive.

    Your story here crystallises this joy. Thanks.

  2. I never enjoyed a commute as much as this one!

  3. elisabeth - thanks for your caution. i've been riding bikes since i was four and have been riding to and from everywhere in this town for twenty years. why? because i don't drive!! no really, i don't have a license and never have. probably never will. i ride fast and with my head entirely planted on my shoudlers by which i mean i am reading the road in front and to the sides all the time. then there's the unspoken intuitive piece that i losten to when it suggests i get off the road for a particular stretch or take a different route. each year i ride around 7,000 kilometres. so far only one accident! touch wood!!! thanks for the link and the awesome comment. steven

  4. lorenzo - i'd love to read about other people's commutes because i bet there are some truly incredible stories out there. thanks for coming along my friend!!! steven