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My bike commute is better than yours

by Ted Johnson

In my last post, I alluded to the fact that I’m no longer working and bike commuting in Tucson — although I still have plenty more to say about that.

But now I’m back in Flagstaff, Arizona with a new job, and a new bike commute.

This new commute is only about 2.6 miles if I take the short way — mostly using bike lanes. A slightly longer way allows me to avoid traffic almost entirely — I cross two busy roads without actually having to ride on them. But the rest of the ride is a combination of sleepy neighborhood streets, some single track, dirt roads, and unpaved urban trails. I only wish it were longer. (Ask me if I still feel that way during the winter.)

For example, this little stretch about half a mile from my house. If you look closely, you can see my bike at the right end of the rainbow.

Flagstaff Bike Commute Rainbow

Click to enlarge your jealousy.

It couldn’t be more different from my commutes in Tucson, where I spent three months away from my home and family while slumming with three different gracious friends, none of whom lived closer than 10 miles from Bike Shop Hub.

This new job in Flagstaff changes my relationship with this blog, and with the regular readers of this blog. I will still be writing about bike commuting here, but only about once per week. I’ll probably have to stop calling myself the “editor” of this blog — like that that was ever a big deal.

I’m now working for Grand Canyon Trust, an environmental organization that has programs all over the Colorado Plateau.

Somebody at the Trust asked me whether I thought working in environmental conservation could ever live up to having been a big shot bike blogger and advocate, as well as a cycling industry marketing hack.

I replied by saying that one of the annoying things about bike advocacy is the obsession with urbanism — the efficiency of cities, the awesomeness of bike infrastructure, the movement to reclaim city streets usurped and made deadly by motor vehicles. All that stuff is true and important. But cities also can cultivate an alienation from nature — even cities with great cycling infrastructure. I’ve heard stories of city kids who don’t know that food comes from dirt; adults who have never been camping. I look forward to keeping one foot in the urban-obsessed world of bike advocacy, and another foot in the wilderness.

I thought that was a good answer.

I will still contribute to the Commute by Bike Twitter feed too, but I won’t be the only one. More details on that as they become available.

It’s been a fun ride.


Ted Johnson lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, and is the Communications Director for Grand Canyon Trust. Follow his hardly-ever-about-bikes blogging at Half-Hearted Fanatic, and his barely-ever-about-anything tweets on Twitter.

 
Burley nomad 229

14 Responses to “My bike commute is better than yours”

  1. Congratulations on the new position, my friend. It sounds dreamy!

  2. listenermark says:

    Grand Canyon Trust is a righteous organization and they are lucky to have you. Go kick some ass and keep us apprised of your victories.

  3. Joel says:

    Ted,

    With much sarcasm intended, “How dare you take a balanced approach in order to solve a problem(s)?”

    Our country and world can be so polarized about anything and everything under the sun.

    Connecting the cities to nature is a wonderful next step in the evolution of bicycles in our country.

    Good luck on your endeavors, you have served the bicycle commuter community well. I know you will continue your excellence to benefit ridership everywhere.

  4. I lived in Tucson during the late 70s and 80s. Worked at the Lunt Avenue Marble Club, where I was the first “nutrition director” for the El Tour de Tucson. I was the highest money raiser there for the third year. Wrote a book about Payson called “Rim Country Mountain Biking” and now live in Flagstaff, where I am on the city bike council. How do I get involved with the Grand Canyon Trust? If we don’t get up there a least once a month, we get the willies. I was just up there last night for a little while.

  5. BluesCat says:

    The folks at the Grand Canyon Trust are candidates for sainthood; that makes you one, too, Ted.

    Living in Flagstaff? That was nine of the happiest years of my life.

    See, one of the reasons I bike-advocate under a pseudonym is because I work for The Enemy: a medium-sized civil engineering firm which produces designs for roadways and other infrastructure in the category of All-Things Motorized Urban.

    My work day is filled with interactions with people who have no clue about their status as a biological entity whose survival depends upon products ripped from the Natural World. Less than a year ago, I was seated at a luncheon table populated by a lot of PE’s (they condescended to my presence there because my title of Systems Engineer seemed to suggest I was One of Them). I spent ten or fifteen minutes trying to explain to a young lady — someone less than half my age — that the relationship between “a well-done steak” and “burnt cow muscle” was the fact that THEY ARE THE SAME THING. This was a person with a four-year degree who couldn’t wrap her head around the simple concept of “butcher shop”.

    Let me know if The Trust, or another Environmentally Aware group headquartered up on The Mountain, has a need for a grizzled, well-aged IT guy who has proven himself to be a master at doing something with nothing in the area of computer systems and hardware.

  6. Ted,

    Congratulations on the new job with a great organization. Glad you’re back in Flagstaff with the family!

  7. Congrats Ted! Glad you will still be writing for Commute by Bike.

  8. AMerc says:

    Congrats on the new job! I had a somewhat similar experience to yours; new environment, new bike commute. It’s been a blast, though.

    I learned that good gear makes the bike commute more enjoyable. Got excellent biking pants from here http://www.s3performance.com.au/shop/apparel/road-bike-gear/kevlar-jeans/120303 just recently, and I’ve been using it a lot. It’s great for commuting and appropriate for the office (where I usually bike to). It’ll probably make your bike commute even better.

  9. Jeff Gardner says:

    Ted, warm congratulations to you. This new chapter of life seems like an exciting one. But the stepping stones to get to this point made the world around you better, too. Thank you for that, from lots of people.

    We agree on few planks of bicycle policy — OK, we agree on nothing about bicycle policy — but if all worked right then the community is all the better for the variety. If your new environment can embrace the same vitality then the Grand Canyon will be in good stewardship for a long time to come.

  10. Abby says:

    Congratulations! Hope you take the long way once in a while :)

  11. Tim Sherman says:

    Ted, before you go I’ve go a question or two. Being from the Pacific Northwest I’m clueless about Arizona and New Mexico. My wife and I are about to take a trip south in the first week of December for our 25th Wedding Anniversary. We like National Parks. If we fly to Tucson and drive to NM what will the be the best parks to enter? Is Silver City a good place to stay on a 25th? Is it located close to parks that can be driven to on a 10 day stay in December? NM is on Cathleen’s bucket list. Should we do this in the off season? We prefer 50 degrees to 100 degrees.
    We won’t be taking our bikes and expect to be on a long road trip between parks.
    We’ve done crazier things but never littered. Help?

  12. Jeff Gardner says:

    That’s a tough sked, Tim. Silver City in December will be empty…for good reason. Other than a couple of minor ruins there isn’t much around that area. IMHO you’d be far better off flying into El Paso and head up to White Sands.

    While southern New Mexico is a hidden treasure and a great place to live, what most people think of regarding national parks in New Mexico is the north state. Acoma, Taos, Bandelier, Taos Pueblo, Santa Fe. Chaco Canyon, a magnificent world class UNESCO site, could alone eat up the time you have allotted. None of those will be crowded in December. Because the weather up that way will look more like your Pacific Northwest.

    25 years. Congrats to you both. a status that cannot be bought with anything but life itself.

  13. PC says:

    Amen, more people need to take the plunge and force their own liberty.

    The world isnt going to change for you, if you live in a rural area that does not mean you cant ride to work..its just harder to do, but..more rewarding..oh so much more rewarding! Coyotes, hawks, possums, bald eagles, geese, creeks, farms, and the sun rising into your eyes, how on earth, your limited time on earth..are you going to top that?

    I live near Portland Oregon now and life for cyclists is pretty good here. My current commute is 6 miles each way and I love the suburban feel of it,curbside gardens,greenway paths,blackberry thorns, kids playing, a rare beaver encounter, flooded streets and a generally relaxed traffic flow.

    4 years ago I commuted directly ON Hwy 395 in Inyo County Calif. A hair raising 25 minutes each morning at sunrise..but the light and Sierra “scape” were worth every bullet sweated as the 18 wheelers rolled by. In retrospect, large trucks and their drivers are far more considerate=safe than their smaller 4 wheel counterparts.
    Keep On Keeping On.

  14. Jeff Gardner says:

    Wow PC, what a refreshing and entirely unexpected post. Its been a bizarre anomaly on this site: people here universally agree about the untold dimension of freedom that attends bike commuting. Alongside that has been a constant amongst most insisting that it is FedGov’s job to provide for that liberty.

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