Cycling In The Cities
I was two feet from my garage when I nearly bit it on a patch of ice. It took that slip up to convince me to lay off the front wheel brake and opt for the back brake first. Then I lowered my seat so I could catch myself on the next slip. I was scared to death. For me, “You’ll break a hip” is not just an expression. It’s a real fear. A little background on my health may help you understand.
If a frozen flat isn’t enough to scare me from this winter riding adventure, I’m also told that in extreme conditions my chain and gear head can freeze and lock. I don’t even know what my gear head is!
I started asking my friends who have years of riding under their belt and all agreed I should go get a bike fitting. I had no idea such services existed let alone really make a difference.
Raccoons have such an attitude. It’s as if they don’t realize we all hate them. I dodged the obese critter and hopped onto the bike path mumbling to myself about how I felt like Snow White except only in the bad way…
I no longer feel comfortable lugging my sweet boys around behind me. Hey, I know they say you can’t choose your family and those little men have a piece of work for a mother, but there’s no need to drag them along for the truly crazy part of this journey.
I hit the slope where my quads usually give out and I have to stand up to tap into the calves and glutes. I’m pumping at a heave-ho, jerky pace. It feels like we’re hardly moving when suddenly Keegan starts to yell from behind, “You can do it mom! Nice Work! I believe in you, mom! Wyatt, mom’s working really hard. Good job mom! I’m a believer, mom!” I had the hugest grin on my face. I yelled back, “Are you cheering me on?! Do you believe!?”
My rides have unearthed old memories that live around almost every corner of the city where I grew up. These streets are full ghosts.
Someone (who shall remain nameless) complained about people who bike on the road around the lakes in Minneapolis instead of on the path. “But they are one-way,” I screeched. “I’d have to go miles out of my way if I were to take the lake bike paths from my home to work,” I argued. The person didn’t empathize and I think we just agreed to disagree. What do you think?
On the bike lane up First Avenue in Minneapolis I saw a man riding a Lark scooter. I passed him. And I passed a man pushing a shopping cart. I know they both have wheels, but really? Also I’ve discovered I’ve been doing this long enough to share an etiquette tip: riding a bike is just like driving a car. Stop checking your phone at red lights and then Facebooking/tweeting/texting so long you aren’t ready for the green. I was stuck behind a guy doing that for almost a mile last night. Annoying. Whew, glad I got that off my chest.
For the first 10 minutes of this evening’s ride I was whining in my head, “Wah! I’m cold. This biking idea was stupid. I want to be at home already. Why didn’t I pack pants?” Then I started to scold myself for having the nerve to complain when it’s misty and 70. Man up!
As I pedaled away dreaming of all the fair food calories I was earning, shuttle bus after shuttle bus flew right by me. It was a little scary at first. The buses felt pretty close but I prayed they were used to sharing the road with cyclists. And I won’t lie. I was totally judging all those gluttonous, lazy people who were kicking back in those air conditioned buses. I felt completely superior. And jealous.
Injured veterans are often told they will never walk again. They may be bed ridden for the rest of their lives. But because somebody said let me build you a custom bike and get you independent, this man was able to start walking again. And he’s not alone. Hundreds of injured veterans are on a Ride to Recovery through Minnesota this week.
The ride to dad’s took just under an hour. They munched on PB & Js, squealed as we zipped down the slopes and poked fun at me as I slowly pumped up the hills along the way. For some reason my 6-year-old doesn’t have sympathy for the fact that I’m dragging 80 pounds (them!) behind me. The mom teasing aside, it was a pleasant way to spend a morning with my children and much more enjoyable than any hour-long commute we’ve taken in a car.
The bike I spotted today is cool for several reasons. So cool it turned me into a bit of a bike commute stalker (with good intentions). As I rode across the Lyndale Avenue pedestrian bridge I saw a man carrying his son on a Workcycle Bakfeit. Never heard of one? Neither had I until a few months ago…
I was poking around and stumbled upon some of the coolest cycling gear I’ve ever seen. Londoners approach biking in a much different fashion than Americans. They actually dress up in suits and dresses and heels… and ride!
Sweat, wrinkled clothes and bad hair days. Riding to work involves all three every day.
Finding childcare is stressful enough. Doing so while considering that I’ll need to be able to get there easily on a bike, is a whole new ball of crazy.
Do you even remember what it felt like to fly down the street on your bike with the wind blowing through your hair? It’s about as close to feeling like a kid as I’ve come in my 30s. For a few days I enjoyed feeling a little wreckless and I lived to tell about it.
I’ve been the mom in this scenario many, many times. Police say she turned to talk to her children in the backseat and when she turned forward she saw the biker, swerved to avoid him, but hit him. Thankfully I haven’t had such a close call with a cyclist or pedestrian. But as a driver, I’m ashamed to admit I have been careless.
Yes, this blog is about my mission to become a bike commuter through all seasons, but it’s also about trying to change my transportation default to anything but car. And Metro Transit has come a long way in the last 20-years to broaden your commuting options. It is a far cry from the MTC system I grew up on in the 1970s and 1980s.
For some reason I thought a gigantic watermelon would be a good dinner fruit. Why not grapes? Because I’m crazy. It was hard to miss the people looking at us in awe as I pushed my full grocery cart up to my bike.
Duh! Right there above my head was a beautiful bike path that carefully guides you over Lyndale Avenue without every having to encounter a single car. It’s been there for years. I’ve driven along side it on I-94 a bazillion times but I never really saw it because I didn’t need it.
I’ve mapped the various routes I could take between work and home and it appears the lake paths will add about a mile on each leg of my trip. A longer commute is not something I consider to be a perk of my personal commuter challenge. So there’s my dilemma: scenic or straight forward?
Want A Raise? Ride your Bike. I always knew I would save money if I stopped driving and starting taking the bus or riding my bike to work. But when you actually do the math, the true savings are amazing.