Urban cycling adventures

I’d been talking about trying to get to work by bike for a long while. The prospect, however, was a little daunting—somewhere around 20 kilometers of cycling through the urban wilderness of Madrid, the latter half of those kilometers crossing the multi-lane highways, mega shopping centers, and gated communities that make up the northern suburbs of the city. But earlier this month, the good people at En Bici por Madrid launched an initiative to help people find their route to work in the company of guides and on weekends, when things are quieter.

I emailed the bike bloggers quite last minute on Friday, but within a few hours they’d gotten back to me to say they had a route in mind from my house to my school and that we could meet early Saturday and try it out. That night I went to yoga class near Sol and left my bike locked up where I always do, and when I got out, my saddle had disappeared. How in the heck was I going to ride all that way without a seat? No fear: after a middle-of-the-night email to the guides, they showed up Saturday morning with an extra saddle in tow. Bless their cyclist hearts.

We had a lovely ride up to the northern limits of the city (the area around Chamartin/Plaza Castilla/metro Begoña), mainly via the quiet and hill-less calle Castelló and the super nice Colonia Cruz del Rayo. Then we began the tricky part, which took us past random empty fields (see left) and three cement factories near the village of Fuencarral, through the drab suburbiness of Montecarmelo, and finally across a pedestrian bridge where we had a splendid view of the smog beret that hovers over Madrid before getting trapped in the wilds of La Moraleja and finally finding a very roundabout way to get the short distance left to my school.

Needless to say, it took us something like an hour and 45 minutes to do the whole route (one way) to school, including our mishaps in the latter half. We got out of there pretty quickly and hustled back down to Lavapiés (1h 30m) to have some cañas.

The upshot of the experience is that when I go to school by bike, I’ll ride for 45 minutes through the city and leave my bike near metro Begoña to catch the interurbano bus that takes me directly to school. The other part just isn’t worth it.

A huge thanks to Aalto and MiguelS for being such enthusiastic and intrepid guides. ¡Sois la leche! (Here’s our track.)

2 Responses to “Urban cycling adventures”

  1. 1 Aalto Monday, 28 February, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Muchas gracias, Katie, fue todo un placer acompañarte en bici hasta tu lugar de trabajo.

    Esperamos que en cuanto te compres un sillín nuevo (y un candado para evitar que vuelvan a robártelo) puedas hacer esta ruta, bastante tranquila, entre lavapiés y las Cuatro Torres.

    Un saludo.

  1. 1 Adventures in bike commuting « España Profunda Trackback on Sunday, 5 June, 2011 at 7:02 pm
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