Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’

Hal and his burro Spike from back in the day. A real man would ski from Crusty County to Pueblo. With a burro. In the summertime.

Hal and his burro Spike from back in the day. A real man would ski from Crusty County to Pueblo. With a burro. In the summertime.

And now, the good news: More Americans are cycling to work.

A lot more of them, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — up from about 488,000 in 2000 to about 786,000 in 2008-12. And no, they don’t all live in Portlandia.

The bad news, according to The Atlantic? More than eight in 10 of us still drive to work (and mostly alone).

My favorite commuting tale remains the one told by my burro-racing buddy Hal “Mr. Awesome” Walter of Crusty County, Colo., who once skied to work at The Pueblo Chieftain.

“I skied from West Park to the Chieftain, tucking for the glide over the 4th Street Bridge in subzero cold,” Hal recalls via email. “I was pulled over by a policeman and feared I might get a ticket for speeding but found there was actually an ordinance against skiing on the city streets.”

Hal has also run a burro from Wetmore to Pueblo, and without interference from the authorities, as the place was once a stronghold of Donk politics. Plus pretty much everyone in Pueblo likes to see some new ass in town, even the Republicans.


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32 Responses to “Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’”

  1. Sharon Says:

    I don’t drive to work anymore. I can ride my bike all day long. So in effect, when I ride, I’m riding to and from the gym. So technically, it’s still commuting…

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Likewise, Sharon. It’s 26 steps from bed to coffeemaker to computer. I have a 2005 Forester that still has less than 100,000 miles on the odometer (most of them gotten in big bites, during trips to Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada or California).

      I’d like to spend more time on the bike, though. But not tonight. Rain and sleet is what we have at the moment. I could see my breath on the back deck as I grilled steaks, and the uniform of the day includes pants, which is just plain wrong. But I’ll accept the moisture with gratitude.

    • khal spencer Says:

      Just rolled over 52k miles on the 2007 WRX. At times I realize its just a waste of money in the garage, but being a confirmed motorhead, I still like to keep it. Not for any logical reason.

      • Sharon Says:

        I had a 2011 Infinity G37 that I loved driving. But about a year later, I got a company car at work so I sold it. When I took early retirement, I bought the company car for a song. Most days it just sits in the garage. I live downtown, so can walk or bike to just about anywhere I need to go.

      • hurben Says:


        I dream of retirement so that I can devote my time to things that matter to me & still eat.

        Sadly, as is the story of my life, the goal posts keep shifting.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Y’never know when you might get the bug and decide to motor cross-country to see the elephant. A motor vehicle is a nice thing to have for emergencies like that.

        As to retirement, I can’t even see the goal posts. I have doubts that I’m actually on the field. I plan to expire, not retire.

  2. James Says:

    Now I feel guilty driving the less than 2 miles to work. Until I rationalize that “it would take me as long to ride, lock up the bike and get to my cube” as it does currently. Granted I also just rode 20 miles in the wind for 90 minutes after driving home from work. So…it kinda balances out, right?

  3. Larry T. Says:

    1993 (older than some of my wife’s students) Mitsubishi with just over 100 K on the clock, so you can say we don’t drive much? But FLYIN’s another story and we just arrived in Italy yesterday. Does a marathon session of pulling bikes out of storage count for anything? We will do a shake-down ride on our bici d’epoca today, then tune in Il GIro on the TeeVee this afternoon. I REALLY like it here, can anyone tell?

  4. weaksides Says:

    I’m proudly back in the ranks of the 786,000 and will do it fixed-gear style today, just cause that’s how I feel.

    Rode across town Wednesday to do a lap at the local mtb trail and rode around with a couple friends last night for a while. It sure feels good to pedal again.

    And since we’re feeling all cheery and positive on this post, the insurance company even gave me a fair shake regarding bike replacement.

    Oh yeah…retirement? I’m clocking just under 6 years left for retirement at the ripe old age of 49 with 30 years service- and it looks right now like I might even be able to afford it. Good times….

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Good on ye, Weaksides. That’s a mighty speedy recovery. You got some Wolverine blood in you? An adamantium skeleton, p’raps?

      Thumbs up on the bike and retirement, too. Who says there’s no such thing as good news?

      • weaksides (@weaksides) Says:

        No wolverine parts here. I did 2 months time, and as far as I know that’s how long bones take to heal. Regardless, I got a very unexpected “okay” to ride again when all I wanted was a release from the torso brace. That’s it in the proverbial nutshell.

  5. Pat O'Brien Says:

    The best I could do was riding to work 2 or 3 days a week. Sometimes Sandy would drop me and the mountain bike off in the morning, and I could ride home after work via Garden Canyon wash trail into our neighborhood. Sandy would meet me in the canyon. We are retired now but don’t have the wanderlust bug; we are mostly homebodies. But, we live where others pay to come and ride and explore. The 2 year old Sienna van has 13k on it.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I was able to ride or walk to work now and then at most of my actual jobs (yes, I had actual jobs once).

      Here in Bibleburg I cycled daily to the Colorado Springs Sun (had to, after I drove my 1964 Chevy Biscayne in front of a freight train) and to the Gazette (only occasionally, and after shifting from reporting to copy editing).

      In Corvallis I usually walked to the Gazette-Times (didn’t even own a bike then). In Denver and Pueblo, I cycled occasionally (bad roads and ugly traffic between home and work). And in Santa Fe, I could either walk or ride to The New Mexican (once I moved to the City Different from Española, which was the real city different).

      Only in Tucson did I have to drive daily. I lived up north on Orange Grove Road, and The Arizona Daily Star was way the hell out on the other side of town. Man, was that ever a long drive, in a 1973 Datsun pickup with a black roof, black dash and no air conditioning.

      Speaking of motor vehicles, how do you like that Sienna, Pat? I was thinking about picking up a used one and doing this to it.

      • mountainhigh10200 Says:

        If the sun shines once per day the uniform is shorts. Period.
        Wifey’s 2005 Jetta was awesome. Drive anywhere you want pretty much as fast as you want. Put bikes on the roof. Sleep in the car. Get 40 mpg or more.
        Now I have spent two months and given it over to several professional mechanics who all agree it should run. Um, they charged me for the opinion to tune I can’t whistle to very often.
        The wife can start and drive it but I can get there faster on my bike, seriously. The computers screw up everything I am convinced. It is diesel, it has fuel, air and compression. There is no way it can’t work. It is frustrating the professionals as well. I feel vindicated as a mechanic, but the car still won’t go.
        My little row boat works when my legs go rounds though.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Looks like someone outbid us on the Casa Solana house. I had mixed feelings about that. Nice little house, built like a brick shithouse. But comparing riding in Santa Fe with riding in Bombtown gave me pause. But, we still got a couple years or so before I am contemplating taking the tin watch anyway.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Herself’s old Subaru Legacy Brighton wagon was perhaps the best auto we’ve ever owned. It was long enough that I could sleep in it with bikes on the roof (drove it to Interbike a time or two). Decent gas mileage for the time. And it was fun to drive. Really hugged the road, even while cornering at speed in Hardscrabble Cañon.

        The Forester is OK. Excellent field of vision for an old feller, but not too comfy and too short for sleeping. Don’t like the way it corners, and the gas mileage is only so-so. Plus it’s noisy as hell. Inside, not out.

        Bummer about the house, K. I like nearly everything about Santa Fe except the road riding. I had more unpleasant interactions with motorists there than anywhere else, and that was in the late Eighties, early Nineties. It ain’t like the roads have gotten any bigger, or the cars any smaller. When in town I usually ride the Dale Balls or the national forest. My pal Matt Wiebe has pretty much abandoned all road riding there, save for outings on the cargo bike to collect children, groceries and grog. Big as he is, he must look like a UPS truck with all that going on.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        We have a 2012 base model. The only option on it is the V6 tow package. The middle row of seats consists of two bucket seats that can be removed easily without tools. When you fold the back row of seats into the floor, you have a 50 x 78 inch sleeping area, with about six left to the back of the front seats. There are handy cup holders and small storage compartments in the back. We cover it with one of these.
        It works really well, spent 2 night in it last month at the Chiricahua National Monument, and we are going again next week. This time we are taking a small stool to use in back for putting sandals on for the midnight potty trips. Having the little trailer, Let’s Go Aero Gear Wagon AT, to store things in at night, as well as taking a bike or two along, completes the package.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        That link to Cabela’s is screwed up. It is a Cabela’s Deluxe Camp Bed pad.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        No worries, Pat; I fixed the link.

        How do you like the way the Sienna drives? The gas mileage OK? Comfortable for long drives? I was a Toyota man for years until I got sidetracked by these dern Subarus.

      • veloben Says:

        The Sienna mini van makes a pretty good camper. Our 2005 has almost 90K with no major repairs. Since a full sheet of plywood slides right in there is plenty of room for homesteading. Generally have it set up to carry three road bikes and three people inside with room for gear and luggage for a few days on the road. It will also carry four bikes and riders with bikes stowed cross wise and wheels removed. Everything still goes inside, including luggage.

        I prefer a tent to the humid inside of a car, but it works. Interesting article.

        About XC skiing to work. Some how the blizzard of 77-78 found me living in New York City (Manhattan to you westerners) with my skis and no classes to suck up my time. What a trip to ski car free up the West Side Highway from 18th to 59th across to Central Park, around the park, down 5th Ave and back across 22nd to the apartment.

      • Larry T. Says:

        I put the wife through grad school working as the service mangler at an independent car garage. Old VW’s become like hypochondriacs, all kinds of aches and pains that don’t seem to show up at the doc’s (or mechanic’s) so dump that thing before you go broke. Japanese cars on the other hand, don’t have the solid mechanics of the German’s but they rarely catch electrical gremlins that make them unreliable transportation.

      • mountainhigh10200 Says:

        I know what your wife says Larry. I agree. I convinced my wife to buy this car instead of a Jeep Liberty when the car was newish and we lived in Leadville. She has now told me she would like to be buried in the car she has become so attached. I believe I am about to become much more proficient with mid 2000 ECMs on VW diesels. I am not looking forward to it. Kind of like you know there is a lashing coming. Thing drives great and we would pass Suburbans stuck in the snow on the pass all the time. 45MPG isn’t too bad either. If we could just get the Japanese to wire the German cars.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      It drives really well. The surprising thing was the I4 only had a 1 mpg advantage of the V6. We get, with a light right foot, 21 MPG in town, 25 to 26 highway, much better than EPA estimates. On longer drives you fold down the arm rests, and cruise baby. Too comfy. Plenty of room for luggage and bikes inside. We have had no problems with it. I will take pictures of the back set up for sleeping and E mail them to you next week. Well, time to terrorize the neighborhood with the Duffinator.

    • Dale Says:

      My neighbors – he an engineer, she a nurse practitioner – sold all of their stuff nearly a year ago. House, furniture, and anything they could not fit into a 26′ pull behind trailer. They winter in Arizona, volunteering in National Parks or refuges, and summer in Maryland at Assateague Island State Park as volunteers. Happy as clams.

  6. Debby no longer in Longtucky Says:

    Maybe it’s time for me to take a test ride on a recumbent. I flew the coop from Wrongmont and am now living in upscale, trendy, gunfire-free Louisville. But I still work in Crimemont so now I have a bit of a commute (13 miles, good distance for a bike ride if I could regain some fitness). Would love to be pedalling to the front of all those red lights…

    • Larry T. Says:

      Get that “Medical issues force me to ride a recumbent” sign made, velcro it on the seat back and get our there!

    • weaksides (@weaksides) Says:

      Sitting on a recumbent is better than sitting on a couch or car seat.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      Debby, if I remember right Adventure Cycling had a recumbent issue last year sometime. Might help in the selection. Plus there are many websites dedicated to recumbents. The only unsolicited advice I would offer is to make your test rides fairly long ones. The parking lot or around the block bit is not enough to see how they climb and handle.

    • veloben Says:

      Debby, As an ex recumbent salesman I can tell you there are lots of great choices in the bent universe. Not all of which require SPD sandals.

      And then there are trikes.

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