To my surprise, it’s been almost exactly a year since a bunch of us photographed our bike commutes for the pleasure and erudition of the assembled commentariat. I had not thought it that long.
I’ve since changed jobs and bikes. So it seemed like a good idea to document my new commute in the same manner as the old: take a photo every 50 pedal strokes. This time I had a camera I could simply hold up and shoot with as I rode, which made the process much easier than when I had to stop and pull the iPhone out for every stage.
As it happens, the route I take runs past several significant spots in recent Making Light history. (I’ve added appropriate links to the descriptions.) Cycling by them gives me a feeling of great comfort, as though I am not, in fact, in a foreign country surrounded by cultural contexts I barely understand. It’s eerily like feeling at home. I could get to like it.
It’s also a rather longer trip than the previous one. It takes me about 45 minutes from unlocking my bike to the seasonal meditations of Vivaldi or the soaring myths of Wagner* to pulling up outside my front door†. I like the feeling of being on a journey that I get from going a little further and for a little longer. The experience of the different stages of the route (from urban council housing, past farmland with goats opposite houseboats and classic Noord-Hollands dike houses, to the safe, familiar road home) imposes a similar set of transitions on my thoughts. By the time I get home, I feel truly removed from my work context, in both time and space. I could take the bus to this job (unlike the last one, where it would have easily quadrupled my travel time), but I get too much out of going by bike to consider it, even in the driving rain.
My one regret about the old commute, to my surprise, is not that I rarely have time to go through the nature reserve. The days have been too wet for that to be a pleasure. But I’ve had to abandon one of my other projects: photographing the same spot every day I commute, so I can watch the change of seasons. I don’t go by that way any more.
* I park my bike in the underground space near my employer, the main branch of the public library, and the Amsterdam conservatory. I suspect the Classical music is due to the last of these; I am certain it’s not the first.
† The photoset stops at the village crossroads. It’s about five shots short of the full journey.