Friday, April 26, 2013

Biking at Work

As I mentionioned, I spent Thursday on my bike, taking photos of houses as part of my job. This was to be an experiment in the effeciancy of a bike versus a car.

I'm pleased to report that the experiment was a resounding success. Using the bike allowed my more maneuverability in some of the odd corners of town, and I covered about the same distance that I would have by car.

One fear I had was how suitable my office clothing would be for a day in the saddle. I did need to maintain the same level of dress as I would on any other day. Many bloggers(LGRAB most notably) have written extensively on biking in ordinary clothes for women. For guys, you really only need to be careful that none of your pants seams run in unfortunate areas. My only modification was to wear padded shorts under the khakis that I usually wear. My "photo bike" also has a pretty  padded seat, so spending a full day in the saddle never became painful. (However, I will admit that I'm glad today is a rest day off the bike because my legs are shot.)

Unlike Lovely Bicycle's speedy lightweight Rawland, my photo bike is a Schwinn Suburban, one of the heaviest bikes known to man. After adding the solid steel front rack, it became the heaviest. Mercifully, the hills in my corner of Iowa are pretty short in both height and duration.

In any event, my setup worked pretty good. The upright seating made being in the saddle all day comfortable, it was also easy to ride one handed and manage the camera. I strapped a clipboard with the maps onto the porteur rack, which made things very easy to see. The board did want to rattle, but some foam tubes from the new bikes at the LBS zip tied to the racks silenced that annoyance nicely. Spare batteries for the camera were carried in the small saddlebag that usually holds tire levers and multi-tools. My camera is pretty lightweight, so I carried in slung over my shoulder messenger bag style.

The big concern with this experiment was productivity compared to a car. I estimate I took photos of about 350-400 homes, which is right about what I would have done in a car. The increased maneuverability  coupled with ease of shooting from any angle (as opposed to out the window of a car) more than made up for time lost due to slower speed. In addition, being out in the open kept me more alert throughout the day, both in regards to my job, and to traffic and pedestrians around me. Instead of feeling lazy and lethargic as usual after a day in the car, I felt the comfortable, alert tired of a good long day of work.

Over the last year, I've undergone a revelation concerning bikes. I'm beginning to understand that they are a blank canvas that can be melded to a dizzying array of tasks if we're just willing to use some imagination and dare to try something a bit different. 

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