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My First Week Commuting With the Hilltopper City Ultra by Donna


So much feels different, I do not know where to start, so let me start with what my day looked like before the Hill Topper:

  • Stand for 5-15 minutes while waiting for the bus that takes me to the ferry.
  • Sit on the bus for 15 – 20 minutes.
  • Wait 5-15 minutes to load onto the ferry.
  • Ride the ferry for 35 minutes.
  • Run from the ferry up Columbia to 3rd, hoping the bus is late so I don’t have to wait for the next one.
  • 75% of the time I miss the bus and wait 15-20 minutes for the next one.
  • Ride the bus for 15 minutes.

My way home looked very similar.  At the end of the day I would often be limping from running and standing on concrete,  I would often miss my ferry home because a bus wouldn’t show up, and I would be stuck at the ferry terminal for 30 – 45 minutes waiting for the next boat.  I felt dull, sick, and tired when I got home. On my days off I had no energy and felt like crap because everything felt like a monumental effort. I hated my commute, I hated the grind.

I used to commute by bike when I was younger. Now I am almost 50, my joints hurt on the regular, I have no muscle tone, and I don’t know Seattle anymore. Though I would occasionally think about getting a bike, I thought it was just a pipe dream.  I have a friend who kept trying to talk me into an electric bike, and I kept blowing them off until finally I couldn’t anymore, my schedule changed and my commute was about to get worse.

Day one, I purchased the bike on my lunch hour.  I have 30 minutes from when I get off work to when the boat leaves, that gives me 20 minutes to get to the ferry terminal.  I’m scared and excited, but mostly scared. And then I start riding, and it’s amazing. I’m not standing and waiting for a bus that may or may not come, there’s a hill and I can give the bike throttle, and I CAN DO THIS.  I see Seattle again in the first time in forever, and I AM IN CONTROL OF MY DIRECTION. There’s a food truck there? I had no idea! I can go there tomorrow and get lunch that isn’t from a vending machine! Suddenly I am at the ferry terminal and it ONLY TOOK 14 MINUTES!  I get off my bike, put the kickstand down, and I am pumped.

The second leg of my trip home has long mid-grade hill, and I’m worried that it’s going to take me forever to get home.  It doesn’t! I use the throttle to assist me, and before I know it I am on the other side coasting home. I AM SO HAPPY! Seriously, I AM SO HAPPY. Oh, and I am pumped. I change clothes, grab a beer, relax on the porch, and as I am just about to finish a cigarette, I see my bus go by.  HAH!

The next morning I gave myself 45 minutes to get to the ferry.  Turned out I didn’t need it, I got there in 13 minutes! 13 MINUTES, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  I was beside myself with glee. I was really worried though about my ride from the ferry to work. I thought getting home before my bus was going to be the best part, but it wasn’t.  The best part is that from loading off the ferry to getting to my desk in SODO was only…12 MINUTES! I get to work and I am so happy, and so alive and pumped, that everyone has commented on it.  And it lasts through the entire day. We’re understaffed and overworked, and I do not care. I feel THAT good.

It’s been a week now, and I keep waiting for the euphoria to go away, but it hasn’t.  I am riding a bike and though I am sore from peddling, my knees and hips don’t hurt. They haven’t hurt all week.  AND MY MIND! Oh my gosh, my mind. I started writing this bit, and tears came because of how good my mind feels. I had grown inwards and no longer saw anything around me.  I felt like a bystander to life. Now when I’m riding my new bike, I feel connected to places, I feel in control of time, I notice everything, and I just feel happy. And that feeling carries over to when I am not riding the bike. Why did I wait so long!