A Wet and Wild Commute – Tube to Work Day!

I’ve lived in Boulder for thirty years and have never participated in one of its most celebrated events. Boulderites are known for their green standards. They’re concerned about their carbon footprint. They are all about recycling, organics, and commuting with the environment in mind. Since the Boulder Creek rushes wild a couple of streets from the beloved Pearl Street pedestrian mall, the City Court House, and the Public Library to name a few prime locations, it makes sense that Boulder would host a Tube to Work Day.

My husband Danny works for The Colorado Group, a commercial real estate company. When their secretary and social director, Amanda, sent around an email looking for participants, I said, “Sign me up!” She purchased a bunch of inner tubes and made arrangements to carpool to the event.

The 12th Annual Tube to Work Day 2019 arrived!

Wearing closed toed shoes and a helmet, hundreds of participants trickled upstream, tubes in hand, to Eben G. Fine park. Organizers postponed the drenching commute by one week because the creek rose to dangerous levels. There have been many deaths due to rafting this year in Colorado. Boulder officials didn’t take any chances. EMT’s stood by.

We were oblivious!

Tube to Work Day in Boulder

Armed with a Monster Energy Drink and appropriate work attire, Danny and I chose our inner tubes. I thought mine would keep me super dry and comfortable. Then I noticed the webbing in the bottom. The water would be icy cold mountain snowmelt. I shivered thinking about it. And yet it couldn’t be as cold as the Polar Plunge, could it?

When the gate opened, commuters were released in groups of around twenty down the stream. As I approached the rushing water, I wondered how I’d hang onto my raft let alone stay in it. How would I get inside?

Just before I plopped into my tube, no grace required, by the way, I noticed a long tree branch just above the rushing water. “Someone’s going to get clotheslined,” I said to Danny.

That someone was me! Watch for the pink hair flashing under the limb as I get smacked from behind. Danny floats by in his white shirt.



Thank God for hand holds. I clutched them so tight, I bruised my little finger next to my ring.

Oh, man. No one warned us about bumping our rumps on stumps or in this case boulders. With the high water level, we splashed, banged and bonked several of those suckers just under the waterline. I don’t remember thwacking my arm or my ankle but the river left its marks. Danny conked a bridge pylon, glad for the helmet that protected his cranium.

Halfway through my Wild Ride, I got stuck in an eddy. At first, it was nice to catch my breath and recover after all that screaming. I’m not usually a screamer. I don’t scream when I’m scared or when I’m on a ride, but man did I scream. Then I couldn’t get back into the flow. “Help me!” I shouted and reached out to several other tubers who weren’t in the right position. Finally a guy grabbed my hand and released me back into the rapids. When I looked back to thank him, he was stuck. Oopsy.

After that little break, I embraced the rest of the whitewater trip, raising up my butt to try to avoid rocks, if I saw them coming. I waved to the onlookers and missed a piece of bacon tied to a string. Others snatched Bloody Mary’s handed out by the cheering crowd.

Finally, tubers stood or tried to stand up to get out of the creek at Boulder’s Central Park. I almost rushed right by! An EMT stood watching. “Can I get a hand?”

He grabbed my tube and I wrestled it out of the melee. Even though it had been bitter cold and I was soaking wet, adrenaline must have kept my motor running at a high internal temperature.

A party awaited us. Hot coffee, pastries, bagels, egg burritos and juices sat were provided. I chugged a cup of coffee and wandered around collecting free swag.

At 10:30, the park cleared out. Oh, yeah. The work part of the day! Amanda drove us back to the parking lot and I said my goodbyes.

I’m not sure how anyone sat down to work. Next year, I’m wearing two pair of bike shorts. Youch!

It was terrifying, exciting, and painful. Would I do it again next year? Hell, yes!

Have you ever commuted by bike, train, or some other creative method? Would you ever consider commuting by inner tube?

Tube to Work Day 2019 - Fun things to do in Boulder

Photo and video credit: Janine Thurston

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52 thoughts on “A Wet and Wild Commute – Tube to Work Day!

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  1. What a hoot! Fun, fun, but rough on the buns. I used to raft a lot.The closest I ever came to death was white water rafting on the Arkansas river up in the Rockies at Buena Vista. Fortunately they pulled me back into the raft, not easy at 6′ 5″. Never rafted to work, however.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! That sounds scary, Al! I’ve rafted that same area and it can be sketchy. Danny bought rafting tickets but I think we’ll have to wait until October! 😂


  2. What a great experience Susie and what a brilliant thing to be involved in. Not surprised you had a sore bum after that but I bet it was seriously worth it wasn’t it? Brilliant.


    1. Hahaha! It was, Jonno. The adrenaline rush was worth the bruises. It’s probably the same kind of excitement people get from amusement park rides, without the upset stomach. Mine can’t handle a roller coaster. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I had a glimpse of one person tipping over, and I figured it would be hard to come out of that ride without a bruise or two but it would be a big thrill to make that ride, and I can see why you wouldn’t feel the bruises until later. Such a high!


  4. Terrific story! I drove along Northern California’s Russian River this past weekend and saw hundreds of people arriving with inner tubes – apparently it’s the thing to do – float down the river to the Pacific Ocean!


    1. Thanks, Ally! We flew in from a California trip the night before. I had wondered if I would motivate the next morning. I woke up to Danny sneaking out the door. In ten minutes, I grabbed my outfit and a wig and headed out with him! Man, I would have been so bummed out and he would have been in trouble if I hadn’t woken up. LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have walked, cycled, bus and train to work, but the only ‘tube’ to work was the London Underground. I thought I would love to do this until I saw the film… hmmm very brave!


    1. Ha! That’s great! Up until TTWD, I’d only taken a bus, biked, and walked.
      It was easier than the Polar Plunge! Running into a frozen lake on New Year’s Day and fighting hypothermia before touching the ice, (which by that time, was over my head) and starting back, was much harder. It took me a day to thaw out. LOL!
      Thanks for stopping by, Tidal Scribe!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve tubed down the Big Sable here in Michigan at least (possibly twice or thrice!) and gone once in an inflatable raft. It’s a much smoother bottom, though, because I’ve never had trouble with a sore tush!

    The best part is to find a place to put in below Hamlin Dam so you don’t deal with the rush of water, but before the bridge to where the nature center used to be, so you can wave and call out to the people as you float by.

    Better get out before the M116 overpass, though–there’s hardly any beach left in the bay anymore due to erosion and one guy got sucked out into Lake Michigan a few weeks ago! (I think Mother Nature is angry this year…Lake Michigan has eaten several people this year, and three from Ludington alone!)


      1. It didn’t get dangerous until this year. I believe they’ve said high water levels due to lots of rain. (My grandparents wouldn’t have let me float if it was that bad!)

        There used to be more of a beach in the bay–when I was younger, you could sit as close to the overpass as you liked. (No one did, but…LOL) I can only imagine how much beach was there when my mother was a girl! (She used to call it the cove.)


        1. Wow. That’s a big change over the years. We drove past Dillon Reservoir in the mountains. It’s the fullest I’ve ever seen it and it’s a dammed up river! They can only release so much water at a time. Imagine if we get a lot of storms. And there’s still snow on the peaks!!!

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Tube to work day – now that’s Boulder!
    I love tubing – great way to spend a very hot summer around here/central TX. The local river flows can vary years to year from lots of wading to baby hold on to that tube ( and we should have had helmets but no one does…it’s sandy banks without rocks, but there are trees).


  8. Yes, I’ve traveled to work by train but inner tube goes right to the top of the list for zany and too much fun! You do have adventure in your bones, Susie! I would have been scared to death. LOL! Excellent event and really, it does look like fun…for you and others! 🙂


    1. It really was terrifyingly fun. I have not gone bungee jumping. I don’t want to damage my neck or my brain cells! I remember seeing a National Geographic special where a tribe in Africa used it as a rite of passage. A young man would tie a rope around his ankle, then would jump off a cliff. Did I mention the rope was a vine????

      Liked by 1 person

  9. What FUN and Quite the WILD RIDE too! You needed helmet as well as elbow, knee and butt pads – hehe. I do not do well with things coming at my face. Living in Florida there are creatures in the water ways, so not sure commuting by inner tube would be a great idea. Maybe kayak or canoe would be better. I do carpool when I can and have taken the bus. Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂


    1. Right???? It was more than I bargained for although I heard the warnings. But that’s what made it SO MUCH FUN!!!
      Great to see you, Susan! I hope you’re enjoying your summer.


  10. Omg… that looks like so much fun! Minus the head thwacking, eddy sticking and multiple bruises. I might cheer you on from shore… but fun nonetheless!


  11. Probably the closest I came to that, was riding out the remnants of a hurricane aboard ship in the Navy. Imagine your house, pitching up and down, and side to side, and rolling in different directions as you try to walk inside of it….lol But, your Wild Ride on the rapids, looks like more fun. As long as you protect the buns that is. 😉


    1. Oh, man! That sounds intense, Kevin! Whoa. I would get seasick, for sure. It would be hard to navigate if you couldn’t anticipate the roll.
      Yep, next year I’m wearing a chair pad in my shorts or two pair of bike shorts. LOL!!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! It is madness!
      Boulder used to host Kinetics. Now it’s hosted in Longmont. A contestant in the race would build a craft and then race across the reservoir, run to the mud flats and then muck their way through. It was so much fun to watch! I haven’t seen it since it moved. I wanted to build something, but kinda forgot about it…
      At least TTWD is much cleaner! LOL!
      Thanks for stopping by, Rachael!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Sounds like a fun way to commute to work despite all the bruises and injuries. What wouldn’t be as much fun is to try commute on the tube back upstream after work. 🙂


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