Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"I'm bringing my bike."

The office was having it's annual 'Retreat'. This year it took place in State College. The retreat is a meeting of all the satellite office employees and the folks from the chapter we'd just merged with. This was the 3rd or 4th time they'd planned this elaborate and too expensive (in my humble opinion) overnight 2-day meeting. In years past, I'd weaseled out of bunking overnight in a hotel room with a co-worker. I'm not crazy about the thought of sharing living quarters with someone I'm not related to. Also, 'Teambuilding' exercises are involved in the plans. *shudder* All of these shenanigans are an introvert's nightmare. I was being ripped away from my routine, my bed, my spouse and dogs. I loathed all of it.
Commence the teeth-clenching!

Additionally, they wanted me to share a ride up there with the one employee who has max points on her driver's license for speeding, distracted driving (cellphone use and makeup application at 70MPH!) and various other moving violations! Not only is she a dangerous driver, but she's consistently late, for everything, which is a quality I cannot stand. Nope, sorry... I'll avoid being her passenger again.

The Late Tangent

< tangent > Why do I dislike tardiness? I can thank my father: he always said that the Navy instilled in him an insistence on organisation and an adherence to a schedule. He is always a few minutes early.
When I was a rebellious teenager and at the age where I didn't quite have my act together (some would argue I still don't, but...) I was in the habit of staying out past my curfew and forgetting my keys. I would come home late and find the door locked. I'd have to wake my parents up to let me in and he didn't take kindly to this disturbance from his daughter. At some point, he put his foot down and told me that if I was late (he locked the door at a certain time) and forgot my keys one more time that I would not be let back into the house... that I would have to sleep on the picnic table in the back yard. So, the next weekend, I found myself trying to get comfortable on the picnic table at 1AM and vowing never to be late for anything, or forget my keys...ever again.
They called that 'tough love' back then.
< /tangent >

So, to bring me some sanity and avoid riding with Ms. Tardy-Crappy Driver, I decided to take Fizz. "Sorry, gotta bring the bike with me, can't ride up with you!"

I based my decision on the fact that State College is very bike friendly. There were bike lanes on East Park Ave which would be my route from the hotel down to campus where all the action is. I scoped out GoogleMaps Streetview and from the looks of it, there were bike racks and bike lanes/sharrows everywhere.  I called the hotel and asked if I could bring Fizz into the room with me. They didn't bat an eyelash... "Of course!" they told me. Yes, the bike would be my respite from the torturous, maddening nonsense I was enduring at the hands of my employer.

I arrived and locked Fizz up to the rack provided outside the reception area.
In the smoking area. Yuck.

After our day-long meetings, it was 'free time' for a few hours before dinner time and a party was being hosted over on the other side of town. I biked there instead of using the hotel shuttle. I had plenty of extra time to putz about the town. I just followed my front wheel, there were so many bike lanes, parks and trails all over the campus and city to explore. Wow.

The only hurdle I had to jump was the highway interchanges between the hotel and the campus/town. It's a tad daunting to cross highway exits and entrances to get through the interchanges for most folks, but this wasn't a big deal to me. I also had to dodge a dead skunk there. I'm glad I didn't run the bike over a semi-freshly dead skunk. Phoo!

11 miles for the evening

I explored campus and whoa, lots of bikes being used!

Every rack on campus was so full! This one had a repair station.
I think they play some sport in this building.

Bike Way!

Bike lane!

Bike trail!
One of the many trails through campus/residential areas.

The ride back was in the dark. I employed all of my lights, blinkies and a reflective vest. I hauled it back down Park Ave at a nice clip. All the cars were cooperative and patient, most of them changed lanes fully to pass me. Impressive.

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