Biking Alone

Kris and I had a fairly relaxing Labor Day weekend – much needed, since we will probably be out of town at least 2, and possibly 3, weekends in September!

Highlights of the weekend: we found a new sushi place (not that there was anything wrong with the old one, just always nice to find additional good ones)… and we finally bought a bike rack for our car! Since I haven’t been blogging much this summer, you readers are probably not aware of how truly awesome this development is. You see, Kris and I had been attempting to shove the two bikes into the back of our SUV; this often led to HUGE arguments about bikes hitting into each other/grease getting on the carpet; bike parts potentially cutting the leather. I had been putting off the purchase though because holy cow a legit bike rack is expensive. The good news: we installed them this morning without any arguments. The bad news: we haven’t actually tried to attach a bicycle to one of these yet. The weird news: if the sunroof cover (not the actual sunroof) is open, we can hear them make a whistling noise while driving.

We had to attach them backwards so they wouldn’t hit the hatch door when it’s open.

 


We didn’t get a chance to use the rack because Kris and I actually did not get to biking together this weekend. Yesterday, it was oppressively hot and humid; we couldn’t fathom installing the racks, let alone taking the bikes anywhere and riding them. Today, Kris’s arm was hurting when he woke up. He biked downtown with me (where we went mini-golfing!) but decided against doing a longer ride. This meant I had to go by myself!

For some reason, going on longerish rides by myself seems particularly difficult to me – almost like it’s not even an option. I always feel like if Kris can’t bike for some reason, this means that biking is just out for the weekend. A couple of weeks ago, I had done a ride by myself because he was sick, and it felt just as odd. I usually can’t bring myself to go more than 10-12 miles and I feel incredibly nervous the whole time. 

really do not understand this particular issue. I commute all by myself (in the city! a city with no bike lanes!) every day and took rides of 10-12 miles with no issues at all when I lived in Indiana. I even feel guilty about how much faster Kris is at cycling than me that I slow him down when we bike together, so theoretically I should be out working harder so that I can get better at cycling and not hold him back so much and I should be happy to be doing that because it means I am not worrying about whether I am holding him back. For some reason, though, I absolutely dread going out on these solo rides.

Possible reasons:

  • I get lost easily. I know my way to work, and in Lafayette I usually only rode on trails I regularly ran, but driving to a rail trail or going out on the trail that surrounds my city are slightly unfamiliar. This is a somewhat legitimate concern; I missed a turn and took a wrong on my route today, but I had a GPS with me the entire time and immediately realized I was wrong in both instances (i.e. I wasn’t so oblivious that I continued in the wrong direction for miles).
  • Fear of getting in a wreck. I did wreck my bike a few weeks ago, and today I almost got run over by a car due to a careless mistake (Kris went through a light, so I assumed it was still green for me without checking – it wasn’t). There isn’t really anywhere nearby where I can completely avoid roads, and even on a rail-trail I’d have to deal with potholes and debris, but I don’t know why this would make me dread long rides when it doesn’t make me dread my commute (where I regularly have to blindly pass buses).
  • Not being comfortable on my new bike. I think this is part of it – I did recently get my old road bike completely fixed up and have been forcing myself to ride it around more. I’m not 100% comfortable with shifting the gears or going super fast on it yet, but again, this should be something that is easier for me to deal with on solo rides – I always feel a lot of anxiety about not being skilled at riding around Kris, so I should be happy for the opportunity to practice in private. 
  • Boredom. I have never taken a ride more than like, 12 miles, by myself. Additionally, when Kris and I take long rides, it is more for us to do something fun together than for fitness. Maybe I just dread the rides because I have to out alone in the afternoon sun and not talk to anyone for like, an hour. Then again, I do that with running all the time, and I’m not actually usually bored on the bike, so who knows?

Hopefully I figure this out – maybe I should just force myself to go on a solo 20 or 30 mile ride just so that I get over it. Exposure to things that worry me always helps!

 

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.