Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Back in the Saddle

I have decided to do at least one longer commute per week. Next week I am planning on doing the full 30 miles into work and then seeing if I want to take the bus home. Today, not wanting to overdo it with my knee and not willing to stake being late on forging an unknown route of that length, I went to the park and ride at main and the 101 to cut my distance down to 18 miles. This way I would still be traversing 13 or so miles of unknown territory but I would have a little extra time worked in to figure things out.

I had the route in my head mostly as I had forgotten to bring a map. I knew that once I got off the frontage road for the 101 onto the Rio Salado Parkway I would get to Mill and then we would be onto unridden streets until we got up to the 51 when I had ridden the bike path a long long time ago to get home from some training I had ridden out to. The Park and ride lot had an attendant and I hoped he wouldn't have me towed when he saw I was biking, but then I thought he would probably just assume I was getting on the train with it.

So on arrival I put on my gear, turned on the hub light, and I took off, excepting a short wait at a light I gave up on near the train station. The frontage road had some traffic but not too much. The trip down the Rio Salado was pleasant. A few more businesses had forced some of the industrial properties out in the first part and so it was actually a bit prettier than last time I remembered it. I was amused to see construction at rural as the last time I road this there always seemed to be construction around here. That was around 3-4 years ago.

Crossing mill I turned left onto Washington after having gone under the 202. Washington had a really nice bike lane and was a really pleasant ride all the way to sky harbor where I turned right onto the canal which would take me to the bike path next to the 51/Piestewa/Squaw Peak freeway. The path had a lot of glass on it. It also did not have any underpasses but I found that I could usually find breaks in traffic in less time than a traffic light would have made me wait. The kevlar tires held up and I was amused to realize that I used to walk a portion of this path over lunches when I had worked at Inter-Tel's 44th street offices back in the day. The old neighborhood was about the same. Same old gang graffiti, same old private airport parking lots and sketchy used car dealers.

I was pleased to find the 51 bike path stretched all the way down to the canal and I didn't need to do any neighborhood scouting to get on it. That being said the bike path hops on streets sometimes, sometimes goes through park like areas next to the freeways, and sometimes it jogs right to another street. I must say I made 2 wrong turns which cost me probably all of 5 minutes but I won't make those again. It is a pretty good route as far as bike routes go. There weren't an excessive amount of lights thanks to it's proximity with the freeway but there were a lot of little annoying turns and jog right jog left kind of things. I think it could use better signage but oh well.

The last little bit of my journey takes place on a canal with underpasses at streets and eventually I hop on 16th street and ride for about 3/4 of a mile without a bike path but most traffic is going the other way. I arrived a little late but only a little bit. It was a good route and I think I am going to keep it.

On the way home I ran into moderate gang activity along the canal so I think the route is a good morning route but I will likely be taking the train/bus home after a full commute.
My knee started telling to back off about 5 miles from the car so I hopped the light rail for the last bit too. Glad it is there.

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