The third shift: My commute

I live about 11 miles away from work, and recently I’ve been riding my bike in, though not exactly like other urban bike commuters. Nope. I get all suited up in lycra, shoes, and a jersey. I get heckled, giggled at, and cajoled by my coworkers, yes. But I like to ride. I like the equipment, and the more-human-than-human physics of traveling 25 mph with my own legs. It’s a fairly new thing for me; I was a jogger but developed a foot problem which benched me. So now I ride.

My ride takes about 35 minutes. I go a couple of extra miles so that I can ride along our beautiful lakeshore. A few days a week after work I take a detour and head south (instead of north) of the city. I ride 20 extra miles so that I can get a good workout, then head back home. The south shore of Chicago is beautiful. It’s sparse but cared for, and you experience the city’s downtown from a completely different perspective.

Chicago's Skyline

Looking north from the south shore of Chicago.

My commute has always been a third shift for me. Instead of dreading it, I welcome it into my routine. On days when I don’t ride (winter is coming to Chicago), I’ll take the train and walk about 4 miles. I’ve already written about that daily mini-adventure.

All in all, I spend about 6 hrs a week commuting, then another four or five exercising while on my commute (when I head south).

A lot of people curse their commutes. It takes a lot of time, for sure, but my commute is a buffer between work and home. When I’m at home with my family, I’m nowhere else. Likewise, when I’m at work, I get a solid, focused day in free of distraction.

If I drove, it’d be different I’m sure. A stressful, fruitless commute is more like time travel. My commute, thankfully, is more like mind travel. It’s a period of time when I’m neither here nor there, so I allow my mind to follow suit.