Drive My Bike

Month 2 = 110 Miles
August 1, 2008, 11:15 am
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Yesterday I finished up my second month as an “official” bike commuter, and my mileage total for the month was 110 miles, all of which was commuting to work, or the store, or normal trips that I would’ve previously driven my car. Honestly, I was hoping that my mileage would be higher for the month, but when I look back I had a few situations come up that hindered my riding. I got rained out for the first time, and that actually happened a couple of times. I also had some scheduling challenges where I needed to be in certain places at certain times and I wouldn’t have been able to make it in time on my bike. On the other hand, there were several times where I decided that I needed to go to the store just so that I could get a ride in. (You can almost always use a gallon of milk, right?) I have come to really enjoy time on my bike. It is “my time” and it fits in nicely with my busy life, without taking time away from other things.

Even though I didn’t have a higher mileage total, I’m still going to appreciate the fact that I actually rode 110 miles on my bike. That is 5 miles more than I did the previous month, and it is 110 miles more than I ever would have done just a few months ago. Last month was also a month of personal discovery, as I explored things like learning to slow down and enjoy the ride, and that has been a very good thing! I had a 12 mile round trip ride last night to meet a friend for dinner, and I really relaxed and took my time on the way home, and it was quite enjoyable.

Month 2 was a good month… of course any month with some time spent riding a bike has to be a pretty good month.

Keep riding, and stay safe 🙂

Permission To Slow Down, Captain?
July 25, 2008, 5:58 pm
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When I started bike commuting I had no idea that it would put me on such interesting psychological journeys. Allow me to explain… I’m a pretty driven individual, and I push myself a lot. I push myself to grow. I push myself to succeed. I push myself to learn. I guess that is not all bad, except that I am learning that there is a dark side to all of that. I have discovered that when I am not pushing myself I begin to feel like a slacker. In fact, I think I actually have a fear of not pushing myself. The result of this is that I don’t think I ever really relax and enjoy the now. I’m so busy worrying about “the next thing” that the present goes right by and I miss it. The cool part of this is that my bike riding has helped me see this about myself.Stopwatch

Several times recently I have felt kind of burned out with my riding, and I have really had to force myself to go for that next ride. I have also started to notice some mild discomfort in my knees after some of my rides, usually when I have pushed myself harder up a hill, or tried to better my route times. In response to these problems I decided that I was probably pushing myself too hard, and I needed to slow down and let my body catch up a bit. I also began to realize that even though I had ridden my daily route quite a few times now, I had barely noticed the surroundings on the way. I was always so focused on getting to my destination, and pushing harder and faster, that I didn’t really enjoy the ride.

So… I have officially given myself permission to slow down, and I have really been working on focusing on enjoying the ride, rather than how fast I was getting there. I have to say that it has been difficult! I have started out a ride at a slower pace… but then… within a mile or so I convinced myself that I was fine… and was back to pushing myself as usual, often ending with the “burned out, sore knee” feeling from before. It also seems like every time I commit to slowing down I encounter another biker on the road, usually on a speedy road bike, and I am compelled to try to keep up with that person, even though their bike is geared faster and weighs less than a third of what I am riding! But, all is not lost, as I have had several rides recently where I was able to really let go and just enjoy the ride, and it was great. Ironically, most of them have been my night rides, which is kind of funny because my first night ride was probably one of the most difficult rides I’ve had since I started bike commuting. But my last couple of night rides have been a bit cooler, and yes, I was tired when I got finished, but it was a good kind of tired, and my knees were stressed, but not really painful. Best of all, I actually took the time on the ride to notice things around me. I remember now, I really like riding my bike!

So, I’m still pushing myself, only now I’m pushing myself to not push myself.

Permission to slow down, Captain? Aye, that’s an order!

Do any of you relate to this? If so, leave a comment and let me know.

A Great Day After All
July 8, 2008, 7:44 am
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Yesterday was one of those mornings when I just did not want to ride. I’m not sure why, but when I woke up I was coming up with all kinds of excuses not to ride my bike to work. It was helpful that I had prepared the night before, and I had my bag packed and everything ready to go, so I just went into autopilot and started preparing to ride… grumbling to myself most of the way.

Now, I did a lot of running in high school, both cross country and track & field, so I should remember that sometimes it seems like I feel the worst right before some kind of performance breakthrough. Well, yesterday was also one of those days.

I didn’t really notice it until I got to the mild hill that is near the end of my ride in to work. Usually I have to drop down 3-4 gears and lose a bunch of speed to make it up that hill, but yesterday it just seemed like I was able to keep going. I eventually did drop 2 gears by the time I hit the top, but I had never felt that strong before.

The ride home was even better, as I have to face the other side of that hill on my way home. This time I was able to make it over the top dropping only one gear, and it felt so great to crest that little hill with a good head of steam. It also helped that the vehicle traffic was backed up for blocks due to some road construction, so I was passing all the cars that were stuck in the stop and go situation.

Yesterday turned out alright after all… it was a good day to be on a bike!

First Month = 105.5 Miles
July 1, 2008, 12:43 pm
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Well, yesterday was the end of my first “official” month of bike commuting, and I ended the month with 105.5 miles ridden. My work commute is a little over 5 miles each way, and I try to do that twice a week. In addition, I tried to ride my bike for as many neighborhood errands as possible, as well as a few recreational rides thrown in when I just needed to get away for a bit.

It was a good month, and I had some ups and downs with my riding, but it is a milestone that I am proud of. I’m in a little better shape, I think I’ve lost a few pounds, and I’ve come to really enjoy riding. A good first month indeed!

By the way, I use for tracking my rides, and I think that is a great free tool!