Drive My Bike


I Forgot My Anniversary

(No, not that anniversary. If that was the case I wouldn’t be celebrating.)

Yesterday, June 1, 2009, was my one year anniversary as a bike commuter.

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I had been looking forward to my one year bike commuting anniversary, but the day came and went, and I completely forgot. I had a good commute and didn’t think twice about it until this morning.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I started on this adventure. In some ways it seems like just yesterday, and in other ways it seems like I’ve been doing it all of my life.

A lot of things have changed in a year:

  • I hadn’t ridden a bike in at least 20 years, but now it drives me crazy if I don’t ride a bike every day or two.
  • I went from zero bikes to three bikes. I didn’t know much about modern bikes, so I started with a simple comfort bike from Costco, a Schwinn Midtown. I don’t ride that bike much anymore. Instead I also have a mountain bike that is my main ride, which I rebuilt by myself. I have tried to learn as much as I can about modern bike technology, and I have continued to upgrade that bike, my Trek Antelope 830. Currently I am also babysitting a really nice high-tech road bike for a friend, and I ride it on a regular basis. (Hey, Jake told me I needed to ride it, so I just have to.)
  • I was so out of shape that I thought my first few rides were going to kill me, but now the 5 mile ride to the office is barely a warm up. I have lost about 15 pounds, and I’m in the best shape I’ve been in years. I also usually take an intense spinning class at our gym once a week, and I’ve even been pondering riding a century (100 mile) charity ride this summer.
  • I used to think those bicycle riders on the side of the road were a bit weird. Maybe we are, but now I’m one of those guys on the side of the road. I even own a couple of pairs of spandex shorts. Yikes! (My kids still aren’t comfortable with the concept of dad in spandex shorts.)
  • When I first told people of my plans to ride my bicycle to work, they usually told me I was crazy. Now most of those same people tell me how much they respect that I bike commute everywhere. Most of them say they wish there was a way they could do it, but then they offer up the standard list of excuses. A few seem like they might be thinking about it though, so we’ll see what this next year brings.
  • And on, and on, and on… the changes are too numerous to note them all.

What a difference a year with a bike can make. This has been a wonderful, life-changing experience. One of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time.

If you are thinking about starting to ride a bike again… go for it!

Maybe next year we can celebrate our anniversaries together.

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24 Miles and 22 Degrees
December 6, 2008, 10:34 pm
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This morning I was scheduled to have breakfast with some guys from church, and I got this crazy idea that I should ride my bike there. What made this seem a bit crazy was that the pancake place was about 12 miles from home, and it was supposed to be in the upper 20’s this morning.

MorningFrost

The farthest I had ever ridden before today was to meet a friend for dinner about 10 miles from home, so a 20 mile round trip. The coldest weather I had ever ridden in before today was a morning commute to work in 28 degrees.

I beat both of those today. It was 22 degrees this morning at 6:30 when I hit the road in the dark. I did the 12 miles to the restaurant in a little less than an hour, which I was happy with since I was trying to take it at a reasonable pace, and there are a few hills on the way.

I found it to be a real psychological challenge, as much as anything. Just past the six mile mark I hit “new territory”, where I had driven many times, but had never been there on a bike. The last mile or so I was counting down the blocks remaining. I was pretty tired when I got to the restaurant.

Breakfast and the time with friends was great, and I had several offers of a ride home, but I thanked them and told them I preferred to ride.

The ride home seemed a lot faster and a lot shorter. I guess that just goes to show how much of a mental game this all is. I was tired when I got home, but not nearly as tired as I was on the way there.

What made me decide to do this? Aside from just wanting to ride my bike somewhere, I think the biggest reason was just to test myself to see if I could really do it. I know that 24 miles is not that far for a lot of the bike commuters I read about, but it was a milestone for me. Combine that with the cold weather, and it was a real mental battle. Last night, and this morning, I kept coming up with all kinds of reasons why it was a bad idea and I shouldn’t try it. I’m glad I did.

So that was my morning… 24 miles and 22 degrees.



How Far Is Too Far?
July 18, 2008, 1:27 pm
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I was supposed to meet a friend for dinner last night, at a fast food place about 10 miles away. Normally, I would have driven this distance, but I decided that I would take the leap and ride my bike for the 20 mile round trip. My family looked at me like I was crazy when I announced my intentions. The best reaction I got was when I came riding up to the restaurant and my friend looked at me in disbelief as he exclaimed “You rode your bike?”

I have to admit that I was quite intimidated by that distance, and actually was trying to convince myself that I wasn’t crazy. Prior to this ride the farthest I had gone was a little over 8 miles each way, for a total of 16 miles round trip. Now that is nothing to a lot of you riders out there, and I know that guys like Tom do more than that every day on their commute to work, but for me it was a new adventure.

Overall, the ride went well, and I felt quite strong on the way there. The ride home was more difficult, and I was awfully glad when I pulled onto my street and could see my house up the block. Not only did I survive, but I did it! Even though I was tired, 20 miles really didn’t seem like 20 miles, and I would definitely do it again.

What about you? I know that some readers are just starting to ride, while some readers have been riding for years. What are your longest commutes? How far is too far for a commute?