02 July 2008

Like, life-altering, man!

My sister in New York City rides her bike to work on a daily basis. The journey is six miles from her Brooklyn neighborhood to her Manhattan office. I think of NYC as being pretty flat, but there are a few hills here and there. Going over the Williamsburg bridge is halfway uphill and halfway down. Not a bad trip.

When I changed jobs, my commute shortened significantly, and I wanted to ride MY bike to work once I figured out that it was 5 miles from my front door to my office. DH was radically opposed to this idea, after I'd outlined my planned route to and from the office. Too dangerous, he said. I'm stubborn, though, and disagree that the neighborhoods I want to ride through are dangerous. I talked to my sis about it, and in typical R29 fashion, she said, "Lucille, ride your bike to work. It will change your life."

After DH stopped ranting and raving, he agreed that if I took a busier byway he'd be OK with me riding the bike. Very well; I drove that way to and from work on Monday, checking to see if it was doable on the bike. There's a spot of construction that could be a problem, but the sidewalks are all open through the construction zone. I don't like riding on the sidewalk, but it is either ride on the sidewalk or get smooshed by cars that CAN'T FUCKING SHARE THE ROAD. Ahem. Sorry. Maybe I should tell that part of the story another day.

Tuesday morning saw me hunting for a backpack and packing up everything I'd need to clean up after a 5 mile bike ride. I stopped carrying a backpack long before I got my undergraduate degree; I was a business student, remember, and worked full time at Ye Olde Evile Bank for the last two years of college. So I had a nice messenger bag when I was finishing up my degree. I still have it. But I'm not keen on carrying a messenger bag on a bicycle, and the bags o' stuff I've been carrying around wouldn't work well either.

I found the backpack in the attic. It is a throwback to my hippie days, made from hemp. I made the mistake of tossing it in the washer once, years ago, which shrank it, and made the already rough fabric even more coarse to the touch. It never really recovered from the washing. There's a red tag sewn into the natural-toned fabric. It says, "cannabis hemp." No wonder I quit carrying that when I started working in the business world.

The ride TO the office isn't bad. There are some uphill spots, but there's a lot and I do mean A WHOLE LOT of downhill coasting. The trek there took me roughly 35 minutes. The trek home...well, that took me about 35 minutes too. It is mostly uphill, and I rode the whole way, never getting off the bike and walking it. It was torture. My thighs were burning even BEFORE I crossed the bridge that is uphill, less than a half mile from my office.

Torture, and yet, I see exactly what my sister means. It was awesome, riding through very quiet city streets in the morning, just me and a few cars, getting to work before 7 AM (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), a productive day, and an incredible sense of accomplishment when I finally stopped in front of my garage and was home. I was as euphoric as when I crossed the finish line at my 5K on New Year's Eve. (Took me about the same amount of time to catch my breath too!)

I had a motorist yell at me to "GET OFF THE ROAD" just a very short distance from my house on the way home. I yelled right back. "Kiss my butt, jerk, I've got as much right to the road as you do!" Or I might have yelled something a wee bit more salty. Maybe. I was NOT in the middle of traffic in the middle of the road. I was as close to the curb as you can get without ramming the bike's front tire into the curb. Plus I needed to make a left-hand turn in fairly short order to get home, so the sidewalk wouldn't have been the place to be anyway, even if there was one there, which there is not.

I think I'll do it again. Because I need the exercise. Because I feel fantastic, better than I have in a long, long, long time. Because I think I'm going to sleep better than I have in quite a while. And not least of all, because it will save me gas money, too. The only way to reduce dependence on fossil fuels is to find alternatives to them, my friends. Provided, that is, I can walk in the morning. If not, I'll try again next week, and give myself a day's rest in between cycling 10 miles a day. Lance Armstrong I am not. And never will be. But maybe I'll have the chiseled thighs I've always wanted. Eventually.

Oh, and if you're wondering....yes, there are shower facilities at work. Very nice ones. I would not do this if I couldn't get a shower after that ride, phew, stinky!


MotherMe (who rode her bike last night, too) said...

I'm so proud of you! Way to go. :)

Dawna said...

Way to go!! Biking is awesome... I just have one small note: take care of your bones. Biking is a heavy cardio exercise and reeks havoc on your bone density. Biking = good, but make sure you drink your milk (or calcium alternative)!

Lucy Arin said...

I was proud of me too, for not giving up on the way home. I did stop the bike once, about 2 miles in to the trip to catch my breath, but didn't walk it at all. It is going to be a bitch to get home today. Forecast high is 86.

Thanks for the advice. I did not know that about biking! Shoulda known, because my sitz bones are achin today. I despise milk. Cheese and yogurt are OK, but 8 oz of milk? Yuck. I put 1/2 cup of organic yogurt in my daily smoothie, but I don't think that's a full serving. I do have some calcium supplements, tho. I'll get them out.

Teena in Toronto said...

It would be scary to ride a bike around Toronto.

Happy blogoversary!

Lucy Arin said...


I would think that Toronto would be pretty bike-friendly, considering that Canadians are smarter than we Yanks are about the environment and all.