Randy Denton didn't wait for Bike-to-Work Day — being celebrated today in Alameda and across the U.S. — to start commuting on two wheels.
Denton, 54, can look back on 17 straight years of biking from his Alameda home to his job in Oakland, a nine-mile journey. He starts out at 3 a.m., in any type of weather, to arrive at Waste Management's Oakland office on 98th Avenue in time to begin his residential garbage route. And he does it on a single-speed bike.
A 35-year employee of Waste Management, Denton started biking to work at age 37 when he stopped “packing a can” on residential garbage routes and switched to automated commercial roll-off duty. With lighter physical duties on the job, Denton saw cycling to work as a way to get his daily exercise.
The commute has its hazards, although Denton cycles cautiously.
"Being a garbage man, up early in the morning driving a truck, I am attuned to what’s going on around me," he says. "I apply this to my bike riding. I am always anticipating bad situations before they happen. I also avoid cars by taking side streets."
That approach has kept him safe — mostly.
"The one time a car sideswiped me and broke my ribs, I refused a lift home," Denton says. "I wasn’t going ruin my record and miss a day riding my bike to work.”
Denton estimates he rides 6,000 to 8,000 miles a year. When he’s not riding to work, he is riding the hills or participating in Century Rides and other distance events. He has completed the Lake Tahoe Death Ride (one day, 150 miles at an altitude of 10,000 feet) 15 times, twice on a single speed bike.