Friendly Friday: Construction worker aids tired cyclist

As cyclists, it can be all too easy to focus on that one negative encounter on the roads.  Friendly Friday is a place to focus on a positive cycling story from the week.  Feel free to share your story directly in the comments or via link.

Relative to my norm lately, it was a pretty heavy cycling week (and light car week!), starting with the Bike Expo on Sunday, followed by cycling with Sir to a play date on Monday, and then cycling to meetings/appointments Tuesday through Thursday.

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday were lovely, but then temperatures and humidity levels began to rise.  By Wednesday evening, I was seriously questioning biking to my Thursday morning meeting, especially given my pseudo-excuse of needing to take the car that direction to pick up some bags of sand (something I could, possibly, accomplish with the bike trailer, but would be more easily accomplished with the car, given that eventually we’ll be driving the car by a suitable store anyway).

Thursday morning arrived, and I overcame the voices in my head that were complaining about the heat and sun and hopped on the bike.  The ride to the meeting wasn’t bad: pre-nine o’clock, decent little breeze, plenty of shady spots.

Heading home shortly after eleven was a different story.  Still not too bad, all things considered, but I was ready to be at home: out of the heat, humidity, and sun and enjoying some water, food, and non-sweaty clothing.

I was nearing what I consider the home stretch when I’m coming from the north, an intersection after which I’m just under a mile from home, with the remaining blocks a straight shot and literally [almost] all downhill.

It is a signalized intersection between the smaller street that I usually use and a four-lane arterial.  The signal for the smaller street can take quite awhile to change.

As I approached, I saw some construction workers and vehicles on the corners nearest me, putting finishing touches on some sidewalk improvements.  Unfortunately, this work involved using some kind of big circular saw on the corner nearest me, which was kicking up a ton of concrete dust (not really something I wanted to inhale) and making a lot of noise (and I, unlike the worker, did not have hearing protection).

To make matters worse, I had just missed my green light, meaning I would be stuck there for awhile — noise, dust, and no shade in sight — with home so close, yet so far away.

As I came to a stop, I further realized that the position of their trucks made it dangerous for me to be on the portion of the road where I would be able to trip the signal detectors.

With a very sad face, I hunkered down with a my fingers in my ears, preparing to be there for awhile.  Knowing that I would not be able to trip the signal, I considered taking advantage of Missouri’s “dead red” law, but parked cars made visibility too poor to tell if the road was clear to my left, although I could see that there was nothing but wide open road to my right.

Then I noticed one of the construction workers walking around his truck and into the street to my left.  He had noticed my sad plight and was motioning that the road to the left was clear and I could cross against the light.

After confirming that I was still clear to the right, I did just that, waving and mouthing “thank you” to my new friend.

His action was a small thing, but he definitely went out of his way to help me out of an unpleasant situation, and that brought a big smile to my face.

Happy Friday!

Biking to work again, sort-of

Shortly after I wrote this employment status update, I learned that, after making it to the final interview (round of six) for a very competitive position, I was not their top choice.  With that option off the table,  I accepted a part-time, work-from-home position.

Given the “work-from-home” status, the only commuting (other than walking across our front room to the desk) involves biking to and from a weekly meeting with my supervisor who lives about four miles away.

After this morning’s blistering hot commute, I am two for three on biking to the meetings.  I wimped out two weeks ago, given the smack-in-the-middle of the day start time.  I would have traveled there during peak sun and returned home during peak heat.  Blech!

My current situation is a bit different than my previous bicycle commutes.

Previously — Biking to an office where I worked all day:

  • I traveled to and from work at off-peak sun times, so I didn’t really worry too much about sun protection.
  • It made sense to bike in one set of clothes (especially during sweaty summer weather) and clean up and change when I arrived at work, then change back into the “bike clothes” (nothing fancy, just gym shorts and a t-shirt) for the evening commute.

Current — Working from home and biking to/from meetings:

  • I’m trying to encourage early morning meetings to minimize heat and sun, but I don’t get to dictate when we meet.
  • It doesn’t really make sense to bike for thirty minutes, spend time getting cleaned up and changed, meet for an hour or two, and then change again to bike home . . . .
  • So instead, I have to pick outfits that work both for the bike and for the meetings.
  • These are one-on-one meetings with my boss who also works from home, so I don’t need anything too fancy in terms of attire, but I also don’t want to arrive wearing gym shorts and an old t-shirt.

I’m not a heavy sweater by any means, but 90°F, with 50% humidity and a heat index of 94°F (the temps I faced when returning home this morning), will make most anyone perspire.  It was a bit cooler on the way there, but also higher humidity.  I arrived, hydrated, wiped the sweat off my face the best I could, and spent the ninety-minute meeting in sweaty clothing.  Not the end of the world, but I was very ready to get home and lose those clothes!

Changing seasons — both the cooler temps and less intense sun — will mitigate some of the above factors, and come winter, I might be angling for middle of the day meetings.

Though there are a few kinks to work out, I’m happy to have a job and to face the challenge of incorporating [work-related] bike commuting into my life again.