I have always longed for an urban existence. While other people dreamed of houses with white picket fences in the suburbs or lots of land out in the country, my perfect life envisioned was a sweet penthouse on the top floor downtown with an amazing balcony view. I would be able to use my own power to get anywhere I needed (walk, bike, good public transport), and there would be no sitting in a car on the freeway every day.
I’m going to have to get a proper cold weather cycle jacket eventually, but my 20$ Colorado hoodie seems to be doing just fine so far…
Where I live right now is a compromise, mostly because our JOBS don’t reside in the urban area, so we’d just be living downtown and commuting away from it, which is silly. I live in a house with a yard. Public transport here sucks. However, everything I really need, in general, is just a walk or a short cycle away. Unless you’re lazy. Or scared of traffic. Or let any little anomaly in the weather make you sigh and decide to just use the car this one last time and really, you’ll get on lessening your vehicle dependence soon. Promise.
That was me for the last few years. I loved the idea of using foot and pedal power, and I wanted to get there, but when it came to putting it into practice, it was just too hard. Too scary. Too inconvenient. It was one of those resolution-y things I wanted to change this year.
I can’t say that I’m completely on my own power. We still drive to group rides we could bike to sometimes. I don’t commute every day, heck, some weeks during season I wouldn’t at all because I had to get to the gym at lunch most days and I just can’t quite reconcile that one with work timing.
Riding with these peeps have really helped me this year!
However, the things I’ve gotten good at lately:
- All weekend errands that I can feasibly run with the bike or my own two feet I do. Picking up stuff from the bike shop? Hitting the grocery store? Grabbing lunch somewhere close? Need a random thing from Big Lots? Unless it’s pouring I’ll do it on two feet or wheels.
- Work commutes even if we have other stuff to do before or after. For example, I had a dentist appointment last week, but it’s close to the house, so I just biked there and then to work instead of taking the car.
- Tooling around the neighborhood on my bike or just walking when it’s beautiful and I want to get outside.
- HTFU on the weather. I found that bikes are indeed still possible in the 40s and 50s with the right layers. You don’t have to just put them away until spring.
I have to completely credit this to resurrecting my cruiser bike from the shed for a lot of this. It’s so comfortable to just be able to head out in regular clothes (not bike shorts) and without clips and go do whatever.
But when I DO kit up, I have cool bike socks now. #sockdoping
I looked at my total bike miles for the year, and they’re not that far under past years, even with 6 months of not being a triathlete, and more of them being outside miles (than inflated inside trainer miles like previous years). This really was the year of becoming a cyclist, and I’m super happy about it.
While I’m not seeing the huge payoff in races yet, I am seeing other benefits.
- My mood is just so improved when I can ride my bike somewhere. I can face the workday or an errand with the knowledge that at least I got to bike there and I get to bike home!
- I’m just so much more comfortable on bikes as a whole. My first group ride this year: “eeek, I have to ride bikes around people I’m scared”. My last group ride? “Yay bikes!”
And, most of all, I have this great sense of accomplishment. You may not have noticed, but around here, I tend to undermine my achievements where I didn’t hit my exact goal. For example, I rode 100 miles this weekend, but since it was just indoors on the trainer, I’m like, meh. I could do better. However, every time I get on my bike and go ride outside, it makes me happy and proud of myself.
I’m conquering demons I had even 6 months ago, where I would have maybe just ridden the trainer or took my car or did the thing that wasn’t biking outside (or even if I did, limiting myself to overly safe spaces like the Veloway). I set a goal this year to become a better cyclist, and I’m happy to have changed from this girl to at least someone who’s on their way.
Bikes = smiles
Was this an excuse to just post a bunch of bike selfies again? Possibly. But I’m really happy that the bike love I found in the spring wasn’t just a fling. This is the first winter where my butt will be BFFs with my saddle and I’m actually really excited about it.