I was on a ride and stopped at a Palm Beach County park to cool down and check out the beach. A maintenance worker walked up and started to check me out. “Nice bike,” he said. Figuring he was just making conversation (after all, it was just a $300 Trek Navigator), I thanked him and didn’t really offer much more of a conversational opening.
Then he asked me about the Nightrider lights. “I’m trying to figure out what kinds of lights I want to buy now that the days are getting shorter,” he said.
We talked a little longer and it turns out that this fellow had been commuting 50 miles every day for the last six months — over 6,000 miles. He had ridden more miles in six months than I had in two years.
Every morning he gets up at 4 a.m. to be at work at 5:30. It’s true that he doesn’t face the kind of temperature extremes in Florida that you Yankees do, but we still have killer headwinds, heat and rain.
He was proud that he had just been named employee of the month because he hadn’t been late a single morning during the last six months that he had been bike commuting. He said that he used to be a maintenance worker for the city, but he got tired of cleaning the same 450 offices day after day. He like the idea of working in a park where he is “getting paid for what tourists pay for”.
His only complaint was that his long commute and two jobs cuts down on his jogging time.
I gave him a handful of blinkies from my bag for his pre-dawn commutes, wished him godspeed and rode off down the road with my tail between my lycra-covered legs.
That guy on his X-mart bike is a better man than me in a whole lot of ways.