If you get really bored and scroll back through my archives, you might begin noticing something about the posts I made last summer (2011). It was dry and hot. Then, if that fun reading hasn’t sent you to the looney bin, take a look at the posts from last winter. Notice anything? There were very few days I didn’t ride to work. That translates to “dry”. Then, while you’re at it, go ahead and re-read most of the posts from this summer. What do you get? Yup…we’re in a drought.
So much, in fact, that the lakes that are the source of drinking water for Springfield are at 64% capacity whereas their normal level is about 81% this time of year. We got down to 63.1% before the weekend of rain from Hurricane Isaac. If those lakes get down to 60%, emergency water conservation measures kick in for the first time in history. When that happens, things will get ugly quickly. Consumer costs will go up, restrictions will be put into place, and eventually, there could be penalties for customer who exceed a calculated amount.
So what does that have to do with cycling? Well, frankly, a lot. I work for the utility company. The one that supplies electricity, natural gas, and water for Springfield. As an entity we are trying to take the lead in water conservation efforts. Our management has set a goal of reducing our water consumption by 25% over the same period last year. That’s a lot – especially considering that we stopped irrigating lawns and nearly stopped washing vehicles last summer. That really only leaves us options to reduce water use in pretty mundane ways. About the only real water use we have is drinking water, ice machines and coffee, restrooms, and employee showers.
Now, most of the employeee showers we have are really necessary for our field workers and we can’t realistically shut those down. There is one, though, that seems to be hanging out there – the one at the main office used by employees when they exercise before work and during lunch. Yep, those yoga people, runners, and cyclists have just lost their shower.
On one hand, I’m kind of ticked. I mean, I consider my biking to work to be something akin to social responsibility. By riding my bike, I keep a vehicle off the already congested roads, I keep myself healthy, thus reducing healthcare costs for the utility, and I like to think I manage to stay more focused and productive because of it. In return for those things, is it too much to ask for a shower so I can clean up when I get to work? On the other hand, though, I understand and support the need to lead by example in our community. After all, I wouldn’t want my sense of entitlement to get in the way of what’s best for the Utility and the community we serve.
So, what’s a cyclist to do? I could try taking a sink bath after I ride in. I know lots of commuters do that, but I just don’t think that would work for me. I know how much I sweat, and I do work in a business setting where I need to be presentable. Let me tell ya, stink just doesn’t cut it.
In my mind, that really just leaves me with one other option if I want to keep riding my bike to work.
I’m back at the Fitness Center! At least for showers. I talked to them yesterday and got them to waive the joining fee because we’ve been members before. It’s not the best option, but it is only two blocks north of my office, and it is a shower.
I took my shower there this morning, and realized I need to get a little more organized in my approach. I managed to get in and showered in fine shape, but once I came outside to get back on my bike in work clothes, it went downhill fast. Besides being in the heat and humidity and sun that immediately made me start sweating again, I had trouble finding my keys to unlock the bike, then nearly lost a glove, and almost dropped the bike putting my bag on it. Then I found that I had forgotten to grab an ankle band to keep my pants out of the chain so I had to use the sweaty band I wear below my knee. I didn’t think about my hat and helmet being sweaty and gross until I put them on my clean head.
Oh well….it’ll only get better tomorrow.
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