Bicycle Lessons, Part II

Okay, the bike commute project continues, and it’s so far going well. (Er…as well as it can, given that I haven’t actually ridden my bike to work yet.)

Last time I did any “real” biking I was probably a teenager.  Thursday I rode 2 miles around my neighborhood as sort of a test run; yesterday I rode a total of about 6 miles, doing about half of my commute-to-work trip to see if the alternate route I thought would get me under an expressway but avoid some nasty traffic would actually work.  I’m happy to report that it will, like a charm.

Yesterday I also stopped at Sports Authority and got my very first bike helmet.  Polystyrene. Sigh.

Yesterday on The Green Phone Booth I posted a few lessons I’m taking to heart in my journey to reducing my transportation carbon footprint.  Today I have a few more lessons, these all more specific to the actual bike process.  So here we go:

Lesson 1: Bike helmets aren’t as uncomfortable as they look.  This one was lightweight, not too hot, and I could almost forget I had it on. Pleasant surprise.

Lesson 2: Bike seats are much more uncomfortable than they look.  My butt is killing me.  I will never again think bad thoughts about wimpy people who insist on soft bike seats.

Lesson 3: Bike helmets do give you helmet head.  I’ll need to be prepared with brush and hair spray when I actually do the work trip or need to look presentable at the other end.

Lesson 4: One of many really good reasons to live in the Midwest is that there aren’t a lot of hills. The whole chunk of the ride I did today was fairly flat, with only a couple of small hills.  They are the kind of thing where I’m sure I will curse in the moment when I come to them, but once on the road it’s not like I’ll have much choice in whether to scale them, and I can manage just fine.

Lesson 5: I won’t be able to do the hand signal thing until I can ride with only one hand on the handlebars.  I can’t do that yet.  So I need to just be really careful.

Lesson 6: I used to be terrified of other cars on the road.  That was my biggest fear in starting this journey.  But I didn’t take into account the fact that when I last rode my bike with any frequency I didn’t have a driver’s license.  25+ years of driving experience has made a dramatic impact on my road comfort and confidence; I ride like a driver in a really small convertible with no doors, you know?

Lesson 7: I’m still gonna need to train.  6 miles today, and my thighs are exhausted.  I am exhausted.  In a few days I’ll need to try doing the 6 miles twice or something…

Lesson 8: You get a lot farther a lot faster on a bike than you realize.  It’s cool.

Lesson 9: I will never be one of those people who passionately loves biking.  People who go, “OMG, you’ll get so hooked, it’s such a rush, blah blah blah”–not so much.  I guess I hoped I’d fall in love with it…on the other hand, I don’t hate it.  Trying to do better greenily isn’t just about doing what I love, but also doing what I can even if I don’t love it.

So that’s it so far! I’ll continue.  I can do this.  We can do this.


Posted on April 17, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. This post reminds me I need to get my bicycle ready for summer riding. I could be riding already if I had my tires pumped up and chain checked. (I had chain issues last fall). The ride to work is only 2 1/2 miles, but it does involve a hill and that means I can’t come home for lunch, so I need to be ready to sacrifice that luxury.

  2. greenmomintheburbs

    Yeah, I need to get my bike to the shop too. I wanted to ride it a bit to see if the problems would sort of work themselves out, and most of them did–the thing hadn’t been ridden with any regularity, like, EVER, and it was sort of clunky and squeaky for a while…now it’s running just fine except the brakes are still squeaking horribly, and the squeaking is getting worse and not better. Youtube and other places have lots of instructions for how to adjust your brakes and keep this from happening, but in the interest of safety and time I think I’d rather take it to a pro and just pay attention. (Is your hill both ways, or do you have to muscle up it in one direction only, and can coast the other?)

  3. 6 miles is long way—I can see why you’d need to do some training beforehand. My commute’s only 2.5 miles, and I’m still red-faced and puffing when I get to work. But I’ve done it four days now, and I’m starting to get more comfortable with it.

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