I rode my bike to Ventura College today along Loma Linda. Starting off down the hill there was more than a little trepidation since I drove back from Peet's coffee in rush hour yesterday along Telegraph thinking, "I wouldn't want to ride my bike here!" And the Ventura County Star profiled the memorial bike rack outside that very same Peet's in honor of a bike rider who was killed in March.
So today I had a general sense of the direction and figured I could sort out all the details of my route later. I would head East and take whatever route would minimize inhaled smog and threats to my physical well-being. And I was really wondering how far 4 miles felt on a bike.
The ride actually wasn't that bad--and it was surprisingly easier on the way back once I knew where I was going and what I was doing. There were a few hills but most of the ride is relatively flat and the shoulder for most of it is wide with a bike lane and not too many parked cars. The swoosh of vehicles still makes me nervous and I am overly cautious about watching out for cars coming up on me and staying to the right while scanning for parked cars looking to throw a door open on me, but I felt confident I could make the ride safely and survive the 8 mile round trip ride five days a week.
Arriving at the college, there are bike racks and the bookstore was easy to find. I had forgotten the pain of paying for text books: the damn book and workbook cost more than the class! I did buy a bottle of water for $1 flat, which the clerk I agreed was the best deal they had going.
While the ride out took me 30 mins, it was only 22 getting home, so I expect I will start making up some time on the ride as I learn idiosyncracies of the route. I made it up every hill except my own final beast of an incline, but man, even though I run and walk and am in pretty good shape, this is either going to kill me or render me a late night infomercial fitness goddess.
I actually didn't head straight home after my ride, but instead rode down to Starbucks and on to the bike depot, where the lady was kind enough to show me how to get my clip on headlights off so I could remove my basket and take it with me. I still can't figure out how to put my lock in its holster, but I just throw it in the basket so I don't much care. Besides, she was busy with a man and his three triplets who came in honking every horn in the place so I left them to their cacophony and jetted off.
Back at home, I've suddenly become very interested in the location of every bike rack in the city. I tried to find a guide to local streets and recommendations on routes in the city but the only link I found was dead. Maybe it's time for me to start my own.
For what it's worth, Main St. is to be avoided at all costs--take Santa Clara instead. And 10 miles on a bike today made me very glad I replaced the seat.