Sunday, March 1, 2009

Not your Typical Morning Commute


Yeah, I may be a little crazy for using my bike as a way to commute to and from work as the weather turns colder.  You can call me a silly goose for dressing up like Ralphie’s brother in “A Christmas Story” to keep me nice and toasty on my way into work.  I’m different.  Motorcyclists are different.  We’re not your “typical commuter.”

In fact I see the “typical commuter” every day on my ride in.  Maybe you are one of them.  It seems commuters do more than just ‘drive’ in to work these days.  A majority of commuters are “multi-taskers.”  Normally when you’re at work or at home multi-tasking is a good thing, when you’re behind the wheel of a car the phrase takes on a whole new meaning.

Some people love to chat away on their phones while others prefer to give their thumbs a workout by tapping out text messages.  Businessmen are reading the paper while they creep along with the flow of traffic and on occasion I can see a woman putting the finishing touches on her makeup in the rearview mirror.  I also can’t help but notice those talented drivers that show off their skills with a coffee in one hand, a breakfast sandwich in the other while steering with their knees.

I just smile as I sit there on my bike.  I am so glad that my options are limited at best when it comes to doing anything other than operating my motorcycle.  It seems that many morning commuters forgot all about the gory driver-ed films that showed what happens when you are careless behind the wheel.

I love riding my Harley to work.  For the half-hour it takes me to commute from Bellevue to West Mifflin, it’s nothing but me, the bike and the road.  For 15 miles, I get to clear my head, relax and put my day together in my mind so that I’m mentally prepared to hit the ground running when my kickstand hits the parking lot at the shop.

We just completed a class at work on Dr. Stephen Covey’s book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” In this book, he writes about how important it is to “sharpen the saw.”  That’s one of the habits where you have to set aside time to recharge yourself physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally.  Riding my bike accomplishes all of those tasks at once.  It allows me to show up fresh and awake for work so that I can get more accomplished during the day and it gives me time at the end of the day to unwind and give 100% to my family.

Another thing I enjoy about riding in to work is getting a chance to experience a panoramic view of the roads I take.  In a car you basically have the windshield, your two side windows and if you’re lucky a sunroof above your head.  On a bike everything is wide-open.  The changing leaves seem more vivid as they pop out of the hillsides.  Sitting at a red light, it’s easy to look up and gaze at the rich history in the architecture of many downtown buildings.  Sometimes I like to take the long-way to work and ride through the Southside just to sample the smells of the breakfast diners and delis that are getting ready for the day.  On the way home, those smells are even better!

How many people can actually say they truly enjoy their daily commute to and from work?  I know I can thanks to my Harley.

The writer is Operations Manager at Hot Metal Harley-Davidson located in West Mifflin.  

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