Bike Commuting: A Beginner’s Reflections

First of all, I’d like to give a shout out to my roomie and awesome friend who is letting me borrow her old laptop that works better than my old and new laptops combined  (i.e. it actually turns on), despite being broken. If it wasn’t for this, I’d have to like…read or something? What do people do without the internet?!

Anyway, on to the fitness:

I started riding my bike to and from campus yesterday. It went okay. Nothing terrible happened, but it hasn’t been without any hangups. I figured I would post a few reflections about my experience thus far.

  • If you are on a multi-use path that is the typical location of the sidewalk and the light won’t turn for you, press the walk button (learned this the hard way after sitting through like 3 lights).
  • Multi-use paths/bike lanes don’t always help. They can put you into really bad positions at intersections.
  • My button down tops will need to be kept in my bag or buttoned up so that they don’t flap around.
  • Speaking of clothes, I am going to have to start doing more laundry. I don’t get that sweaty, but I keep getting random dirt on my clothes while riding.
  • Make sure things are SECURELY fastened to the bike or they will fall off (my headlight may have fallen off).
  • My campus is not very bike friendly. Instead of simply having stop signs at the end of the bike path, they put curbs there so that you have to dismount and carry your bike to ensure stopping. Also, if you want to cross the river on the pedestrian/bike bridge, be prepared to carry your bike up TWO FLIGHTS OF STAIRS so that you can cross over the railroad tracks. there is an elevator, but it barely fit me and my teeny tiny bike. Luckily, I live on the bridge side of the tracks, so I can just ride up a hill onto the bridge, but I discovered this when I decided to ride my bike downtown and had to cross the tracks.
  • I am probably overly terrified of theft. Kris had a bike stolen once, so I now live in fear of another being stolen (it doesn’t help that random strangers compliment my bike – makes me feel like it stands out and it isn’t even THAT nice in the grand scheme of bikes). However, at the bus station, there was seriously a bike just laying under a bush near the rack like that somehow hid the thing (did not get stolen while mine was parked). Also, I left my rear blinky light on and blinking and it did not get stolen. I still bought a u-lock and registered my bike with the campus police, who “helpfully” reminded me that my bike is less likely to get stolen if I attach it to a rack. Wut? People don’t do that?
  • Don’t stop at the bottom of a hill. You won’t get up the hill (easily).
  • No matter how much I run, I don’t think I’ll get better at biking. I mean, I know they use different muscles, but I thought some of that cardio would translate. Nope, I still really really suck at biking (as in I’m slow and worn out from my under 3 mile commute).
  • The slowness may be because carrying a lot of stuff weighs A LOT. I’m sort of glad I don’t have my laptop in town right now so I can build up my endurance a bit before it comes in.
  • Despite the slowness, it still takes bout the same amount of time as commuting in a car due to the different route.
  • Also, I imagine I will get better at things. I won’t always have to walk uphills because I accidentally stopped at the bottom of them; I won’t always have to fumble slowly with my u-lock and panniers (already doing better); I won’t always have to stop and look at my directions again.
  • Going downhill is probably worse than going uphill. Uphill takes a lot of work; downhill involves a lot of terror that you will not be able to stop properly at the bottom of said hill, especially when the downhill involves switching to a left-hand turn lane.

I could probably think of more, but I think this gives the general idea. Clearly, I am capable of doing this, but I have a few kinks to work out, first.


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