Why I Love Bike Commuting in Boston

Commuting to work on my bike has brought my competitive spirit back—a quality I thought I left behind on the softball field my senior year in high school. My heart pounds in excitement as I gear up to ride, just like it did when I stepped up to the plate. The ride into Harvard Square means exertion and potential hostile territory as I move in and out of the flow of traffic through the Boston neighborhoods.

Riding in Harvard Square.

I savor the challenge of the road, the required vigilance. I’m one of the only girls out there except for college students on foo-foo bikes, wearing flip-flops. For them, a bike is a frugal means to get from point A to B. Not me. I savor the ride, like to get down and dirty.

Commuting during the summer is a piece a cake, the best of times. I have free reign over the construction-laden bridge into the Square and Bert’s Electric isn’t squeezing me into the orange barrels vying for command of the lane. The driver will have longed passed this way before me, eager to get a jump on his schedule so he could suck down beers and fish in the Charles come three o’clock.

When Labor Day gets behind us, the worst of times, tradesmen aren’t reporting to work early and city bus drivers are laying claim to the asphalt. I’m a part of this, a cog amid congested traffic, obeying the rules of the road and thanking those drivers who are courteous. Courtesy is an act tradesmen do not extend to bike commuters.

And city bus drivers?

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve played chicken with ‘em and won.

One morning on North Harvard Bridge I lay claim to my share of the asphalt by scaling my way in between a Jersey barrier and Stan’s Heating and Cooling. That’s one foot plodding along the van and the other along the barrier, when the driver catches sight of me in the passenger side mirror. He goes wide-eyed as I slap my hand down on the front fender with a “You’re-seriously-blocking-my-right-of-way” expression playing across my face.

It is dangerous out there. Risk is 360. But because I behave on the road—I expect respect. As with the tradesmen that squeeze me off the bridge, when someone moves in on my turf, I feel compelled to take it back. Think of Kathy Bate’s character in Fried Green Tomatoes when she rams the car of the young girls who rob her of a parking space: “Face it girls, I’m older and have more insurance.”

It’s a competition and that’s why I love cycling in the city rather than the country. Who wants to pedal by meadows, breathe clean air, and listen to the calming effect of birdsong? Give me the congestion and pollution of the city streets. Taking risks enable me to handle the challenges that life brings.

Yesterday I encountered bad sportsmanship. At Watertown Yard, I break off the river path and onto the road. I’m up out of the saddle pedaling like hell in the middle of the right lane to catch the green to make a left. But time runs out and the light turns red.

I’m closing in behind a Ford truck when a VW passes me and zips in behind it. This infuriates me, but damn, it’s too bad he leaves a five feet of space between his front end and the truck’s bumper.

Now, what do I have to do?

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How Dell Technologies’ Advocacy for Fitness Makes Me Future-Ready

Can a fifty-something woman be as hungry to lose 70 pounds as she is compelled to continually improve her skills in a world that’s constantly evolving?

You bet she can.

In the midst of completing a 6-month role assisting in a Documentum migration for Dell EMC’s Online Support Services in 2016, my father was diagnosed with stage-4 kidney cancer. He had called, laid the news on me, disconnected, and left me uncontrollably sobbing in my cube.

Difficult news to deliver; difficult news to fathom.

He responded well to chemo despite the inoperable and ample tumor lodged on his kidney. He kept going about much of his daily routine, tenacious and brave, and I on the other hand in a mix of empathy and envisioning life without him, packed on the pounds.

When I began working in Dell EMC’s Services and IT Marketing in 2017, more than six months beyond the time the doctors surmised my father would last, I assumed my father’s gumption for life and dismissed the tenuous notion of his leaving us. I delved into my new role, ingesting bits and pieces of Big Data technology, and began riding the 12.3-mile commute to and from work on my bike. (Hopkinton, as I like to say, has a few of its own Heartbreak Hills.)

The physical effort afforded me what my dad had: endurance. Braving the traffic and heat? His courage. Being drawn to this new technology at my fingertips? His curiosity and passion to gain knowledge.

When the weather turned cold and my fiance hoisted my bike up to the rafters in the garage, I had dropped 40 pounds and enrolled in a number of lunchtime exercise classes at work, ranging from yoga to step to body conditioning. Yoga! I had always wanted to try it but was intimidated by those sinewy, lithe bodies. The instructor, Nancy Galiardi, readily allayed my insecurity. And all through my first step class, I kept shouting ‘wow, this is great! I haven’t done Step since the 80’s!”

The benefits, too, of working out goes beyond my 70-pound weight loss. The endorphin-residual and feeling of well-being empowers my work, my knowledge, my abilities and my demeanor. It puts me in a position of ‘future-ready’– fit to assimilate new technology, new perspectives, new responsibilities.

I may not be invincible like my father was with his cancer, but he made me a survivor before he was even gone. Being fit is empowering. Taking advantage of the fitness amenities Dell offers continue to be a 360-something I can’t afford to leave behind.

What’s keeping you from getting fit and empowering yourself with the fortitude to survive 2020 and beyond?

Lisa Mae DeMasi is a Technology Blog Editor and Writer and Social Media Communications Specialist within Services and IT Marketing at Dell EMC. This article is reprinted from Direct2Dell, a Product & Technology Blog.

To see all of Lisa’s published work, click here.

You can contact Lisa at lisa dot demasi at gmail dot com.