June 09, 2011

Bike to work day 2.0

Back in May when bike to work week actually I happened, I had every intention of trying to bike to work, but somehow I kept finding an excuse. I don't know the route; the roads could be too busy; running is one thing, but I haven't biked more than 3 miles in 10 years, would I have the stamina?; I don't have a commuter bike (hey, at least I *have* a bike - albeit a mountain bike circa 1991); but the kids LIKE picking me up from the train station; it's too hot, it's too cold, it's raining.  (Actually the month of May did have a lot of rain.) But really, these were all just excuses that I used to keep myself going to/from work with the car-train-walk combo.

I had every intention even of trying out the commute this last weekend as a test run.  But 9 miles out and 9 miles back didn't seem like a good plan (me and a 3 yo were just having too much fun playing outside was told as I started to get ready to go...."Mama you must stay here forever and ever!")  So with Saturday's test-ride out, I thought for sure I wouldn't be bike-commuting  this week.  But on Tues when my train/carpool buddy took a different train, I finally got up the courage to try my bike commute.  I was going to have to try it sometime anyway and a Tuesday is a good a day as any.

So with my maps.google.com directions carefully written on the back of an envelope tucked in my shorts, bike helmet on, change of clothes in the bag, water, gps watch (Yeah, I know - why would I need directions written down....I still haven't mastered that feature on the garmin yet.), tires pumped, kisses all around and a quick prayer to get me there safely, I hopped on and made my way to work.

The first thing I learned - biking uphill is NOT the same as running uphill.  Dang!  I was nonplussed to see that my "average pace" on my garmin going up a hill was about a minute to 2 minutes slower than when I run that same hill.  Once I got over that - the hill and my puzzling thoughts, I kept on riding right up to one of the hairier intersections.

But that led me to something else I learned on my bike.  It is not a race.  My workouts and runs are often measured, with time, distance, pace goals. Biking to work was about getting from point A to point B safely, saving a few bucks, getting some fresh air, enjoying the ride and *hopefully* getting there before my train normally would.  And  burn a few calories so I can eat more

(I wished I biked on Wed & Friday this week too, when my train was way delayed both days!)

Lastly, I was pretty darn scared about commuting than I expected to be. Safety was part of it, but mostly because I just feel so vulnerable out there on the road with all these big metal objects around me.  Especially ones with people in them. On their smart phones.

But I think then I thought about a one of Molly's posts I just re-read recently about being scared: “It must be something like walking out on the rope at Xel-Ha—it’s scary till you start, then you’re so busy concentrating on what comes next, the next step, you forget to be scared.”

I am happy that I biked to work. It did feel like an accomplishment, (not to mention a decent workout) but really, I am prouder of the fact that I did something I was scared to do.  I am still a bit scared, especially at some of the busier intersections, but with a mountain bike I can always hop the curb an bruise my butt on the sidewalk bumps so I hope to add biking to my modes of transportation options more often.  I have a feeling I will get to see a lot more things that I miss when riding the train or driving everywhere.

Do you bike anywhere?  Or do you have something that you've been putting off because it just seems a bit too scary?

Apparently, this guy here, he as no fear. But man, do I wish he would at least wear a helmet!


Curt said...

HAH! Today.... I... biked to work!! And found out I can do it in Arizona when it is in the 90s. And just took away all MY excuses!!

Al's CL Reviews said...

I would love to bike to work, but I have to go up an interstate and a toll road and we have no place to shower.