|Excerpted From The Washington Post |
Found and lost, lost and found. What Bicycle Washington affords this summer is redemption, for both rider and bike.
It all began for Ed Cabic with a Mt. Shasta Capella that he got about 17 years ago when he was 11, growing up in Columbia. It was a nice hybrid, large for the boy, and he rode it a lot. Then he got his driver's license.
Nothing beats driving, until Cabic realized he was arriving at work every morning mad and stressed.
A couple of years ago, he hauled out the dependable, upright Mt. Shasta. He started riding from Petworth to his job as a computer applications developer for a law firm at 10th and K.
The first day, he had to stop five times on the hills going home. Within two weeks, he didn't have to stop anymore.
"I went from hating my commute to having the commute be what I was looking forward to all day," says Cabic, now 28. "I come into work happy."
So happy that: "I found my commute was not long enough."
So he moved to Alexandria. That commute is about 15 miles round trip, 30 minutes each way. He got studded tires to ride in the snow. He does 2,500 to 3,000 miles a year.
While shedding 40 pounds, he calculated he also was saving about $4,500 a year -- before the recent jump in gas prices.
He has invested about $1,500 of the savings to upgrade the Mt. Shasta. Old bike, new accessories: He's got two panniers -- one doubles as a backpack, the other holds a full-size grocery bag -- plus a utility bag on the rack. The panniers carry his work shoes and a change of clothes. He rides in faded spandex and showers at the office.
He packs a lunch, a breakdown kit, lights, a CO2 tire inflator, latex gloves in case he has to handle his chain. On the handlebars is a bell, an air horn for really obnoxious or dangerous motorists, and a GPS device that he mainly uses as a speedometer.
He kept the Mt. Shasta's friction-shifters because he considers the old system more durable and lower-maintenance than the new index gears.
He wears a helmet, and also goggles, to which he has attached a tiny rearview mirror: "Probably the best $15 I ever spent."
"I love D.C.," he says. "A big part of being in love with the city is biking it."
His favorite part of the morning commute is cresting the hill on the Mount Vernon Trail bike path near Reagan National Airport. That's the moment the monuments suddenly come into view.
Now it's the end of the day. Heading home, he cruises the Mall on Madison Drive. As he pedals over the 14th Street bridge, planes swoop toward National while boats ply the Potomac River. "You get quite the vista," he says. "At night you can see the Nationals' stadium."
He turns onto the Mount Vernon Trail and follows the river toward Alexandria. Bikers are coming and going. They have left the cars behind, and it is quiet along the river.