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…