Faster Than a Dodge Grand Caravan!

I realized a second ago that today marks the beginning of my fourth year at Carleton. I started my job here on October 3, 2005, which seems both a long time ago (I only had one kid then!) and not really that long ago (I only had one kid then!). It’s been a great three years, I must say. When I have another three years under my belt, I might finally stop feeling like a newbie.

I celebrated this milestone by inadvertently resolving an issue I’ve been considering as long as I’ve been riding my bike to and from work: is it faster to bike than to drive? I’ve thought so, but never had the chance to actually test it, since I can’t really race myself.

But this morning, pedalling up the street, I saw one of my neighbors, a professor who works one building away from me, getting into his car. Gentlemen, start your engines! Or your lungs, as the case was. I adjusted my speed so that I passed his driveway just as he finished backing up, giving us a more-or-less equal starting point.

I rode to campus at my usual speed, expecting his Grand Caravan to zoom by on my left at any second. As I approached the turn onto the the straightaway to my building, he hadn’t yet caught up, and I thought that I just might beat him outright – and right there he passed me, trying to break my spirit. But I had a plan – beyond even the application of superhuman willpower. Oh, yes: I would still be riding when he had to make like a hominid and start walking.

So I maintained my speed, and sure enough, I passed him back in the parking lot, where he was getting out of his car for the short walk to his building. 200 yards later, locking my bike to the bike rack, I looked back down the sidewalk to find him still strolling toward his building. Two wheels good, four wheels slow!

5 thoughts on “Faster Than a Dodge Grand Caravan!”

  1. Number of times I have driven a car in the past three weeks: 1

    Places to which I have walked or ridden my bike: St. Olaf (for the high school cross country meet), the high school (for a school board meeting), the grocery store (for all of my shopping, using the Burley for large loads), Carleton (all trips).

    Clara wants to institute a Hall of Shame at Carleton: a big banner in Sayles naming professors who live within a certain distance from school who have been spotted driving to work.

    My sister-in-law, who teaches at the of U of M, rides her bike to work from Roseville. She figures she has, since she started working there, biked the equivalent of two trips across the United States.

  2. I like Clara’s idea, but I wonder how she’d ram that through the faculty committees… I’d suggest having negative points for routinely blowing stop signs.

    The Roseville-U commute sounds long, hard, and healthy. I heard, from a cycler here in town, about a Minneapolis firefighter who commutes by bike from her home in Northfield to her station up there – just one long 4-day shift (or something), but still…

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