I am lucky enough to be able to cycle to work every day, using three of the many designated bike routes that criss-cross the city of Vancouver. These are quiet side streets with various traffic calming measures and favourable stop signs designed to attract cyclists and discourage motorists. I have lived in four different places and worked in two during my five years here, and I’ve never been more than four blocks from a bike route.
This is my favourite time of year for cycling. Is it the warm, sunny weather after months of cold rain? The beautiful cherry blossoms and vibrant foliage of the trees that line most routes? The views of the North Shore mountains gradually losing their snowy caps? Well, yes. But it’s mostly because I can rack up some pretty impressive points totals.
Let me explain: cycling the same route every day can become boring, despite the beautiful trees, mountain views, and interesting driving maneuvers that can often be observed. The best way to spice it up is to treat each commute as a race against the other cyclists using the same route. My current system is:
+2 points if I pass a male cyclist
+1 point if I pass a female cyclist
-1 point if I’m passed by a male
-2 points if I’m passed by a female
Passing (or being passed) when at or just moving away from a red light does not count; the first people at the light must stop, while late-comers can breeze straight through.
I cycle year-round, stopping only for snow, ice or serious intoxication. My fellow winter commuters are hard-core; finishing the ride with zero points is a good day. Luckily, many of the city's summer-only cyclists are just starting to leave their cars behind and struggle up the hills on their bikes, desperately trying to regain last year’s fitness.
Last night I achieved a PB of +12.
In a few weeks people will be fitter and it will be too damn hot for racing. As small and, some might say, ridiculous, as my current victories are, I plan to enjoy them while I can.
I did tell you I’m a geek, right?