[Commuting] An Interesting Proposition (as Opposed to a Modest Proposal)

So, it just occured to me, that, yes, I’m talking about commuting a lot at the moment. But this is really starting to intrigue me. What I hear regularly from my coworkers is:

“you’re insane”
“I’d never do that, that’s way too much work”
“What if I sweat?”
“Ugh. Cycling.”
“6 kilometers? that’s like, an HOUR on a bike!! why would you do that?”

And no one believes me that my commute, by bike, is between ten and fifteen minutes. And right now? I’m not in particularly good shape. Walking the same 6km (45 minutes each way) has been beneficial, but I’m not in GOOD shape right now. But here’s what’s interesting to me. I’ve complained about the buses in Ottawa for years. I’ve lived in two places where it was literally quicker to walk a straight line (one street, Bronson, to work) than wait for a bus, take it, wait and transfer to another, and then get to work. Plus, I didn’t have to stand around freezing in the cold, because movement/exercise = warm. So I have….

AN IDEA.

And my idea is this. A Top Gear-esque challenge.

I need someone (preferably someone I know, so this isn’t creepy) to arrange with me to “race” by bus, to work, from their home. On the map, I’ll use an intersection close to them, but not their address, and to their workplace ( I’m currently using 333 Laurier Avenue as the “workplace” but that can change). Right now, I’m basing things on a “mid-point 10th Line, Orleans” map, but I’ll straighten it out so it’s accurate. I want to gauge door-to-door, rather than “once I get on the bus”. This will actually make things more difficult for me, because… I’ll have to bike from Ottawa South to their place in Orleans, FIRST. So, I’ll already have done about 25km. I’ll be warmed up, but I’ll also be the beginning of tired.

Now, I have two choices, as I lay this entire idea out in my head. First the bus route:

So, that gives a few options: as short as 34 minutes (at 8am, on a Monday), and as long as 48 minutes. I’ll leave the busing route up to the experts, BUT, I’ll want to know what route they’re using.

For myself, I have two choices.

First there’s the shortest route (sorry for no visual on this: GoogleMaps won’t let me embed a route that isn’t car/bus based). This is physically the least distance, at 20.2km on the map. Sounds like the smartest route, right? But it’s St. Joseph, Ogilvie, St. Laurent. In the thick of the morning commute (and obeying all traffic laws) this is going to be stop’n’go on a bike, and relatively tense. I would assume. So, IS the shortest route the fastest? I don’t think so, but maybe I’ll have to do this challenge twice.

My preferencial route, however is about four kilometers longer. UP 10th line, away from my destination, and then across the parkway, and bike paths (some of which are gravel). The majority, in fact, is bike paths, and then cuts down through Rockliffe Park, into Vanier, and then over into downtown. The majority of this ride can be done avoiding traffic. In fact, along the paths on the parkway? I can probably go non-stop, full-out, for ten or twelve kilometers. And, it’s prettier.

Now, google maps claims that either of these routes (20.2km for the most direct, shortest route and 24.1km for the “off the beaten path” route) should take me an hour to an hour and a half. HOWEVER. That seems to base average speed on about 18km/h. I tend to average closer to 25km/h, and on the right bike, with the right, open route, with little in the way of signs and lights to slow me, I can easily break 30km/h. The last “race” I did, I averaged 29.8km/h, but got stopped in traffic through downtown, where they hadn’t shut traffic down for the event).

Assuming I can hit and maintain my last-summer average of 27km/h, well… That 20.2km should be about 35 minutes, and the 24.1km should be around 50 minutes. That’s squarely in line with the bus route’s estimated 34-48minutes. But, that’s also best case scenario for the buses, and I don’t know how accurate that is.

I will be choosing my weapon carefully. Specifically, for this, I’d leave my commuter at home, and bring out the Cyclocross. I’d never planned on commuting on that bike, BUT, at the same time, I was never planning a 20-25km one-way commute. If I was doing 50km a day? I’d be riding something faster and more efficient than my fixie. I’d be willing, at some point, to try this again, and ride the single-speed. But realistically, a single speed would not be my commuter of choice with a 20+km one-way commute. So, lets be realistic about it.

I’ll be rolling my Opus Stern for this one.

So, all that said, there’s a solid-ish plan… is anyone willing to play James May to my Richard Hammond?

What, you’ve not seen the Top Gear Commuter Challenge?

Ok, so who’s gonna be the Stig? I’m thinkin’ sometime in late June?

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