So, the Bike

I’m a hippie at heart, and not ashamed to be one. I’m also a cheap bastard. People seem surprised sometimes that a fiscal conservative can be a social liberal, but to me that spells ‘rational’.

I formulated a simple plan: get a decent-but-not-too-expensive bike, emphasizing durability over performance. After all, a heavier bike means more calories burned. Ride that bike to the train station each day, where a company-sponsored shuttle will scoop me up and take me through the worst of the traffic. A few calories burned, about 10kg of greenhouse gas avoided (minus the 100+g I emit while pedaling), and lower blood pressure when I sit down at my desk. Before long the bike pays for itself.

Well, unless you get big eyes at the awesome family-owned bike store and spend far more than you planned. I bought a really nice bicycle that cost more than I have spent on all other bicycles over my entire life. But dang, it’s a treat to ride.

For the curious, I got a Giant Escape 0, and paid thirty of the smartest dollars of my life for a cushier seat. After all the accessories (on-bike pump, home pump with gauge, helmet, water bottle cage, water bottle, big-ass lock with extra cable, rack, bags that attach to the rack, and I’m sure there was more) I was looking at more than $1300. It’s going to take a while to pay that off in savings.

In my defense, I could have spent a lot more. My “really nice” is another person’s eye-roller. No suspension? No disk brakes? Pf.

Greatest fear: plunking down all that lovely lucre and having my knee veto the whole plan.

I bought the thing on a Saturday, and rode it home from the store. I took a test trip Sunday to the CalTrain station and back, to get an idea how much time I should budget in the morning to get where I need to go. Monday and Tuesday I was a bicycle commuter, logging a sweet 13 miles each day.

My legs were pretty tired after four straight days in the saddle, and when I got up the next morning I recognized that I could ride, but that I probably shouldn’t. I gave myself a rest day. This is an offshoot of the “don’t be stupid” part of the plan.

On that topic, that day while driving to work I saw a kid on a bike do something stupid and get bumped by a car. He wasn’t hurt, but his front wheel didn’t work anymore.

Repeating the note to self: don’t be stupid. Left turns at large intersections are the most important times to heed that mantra.

I’ll leave my discussion of fitness apps for another day. There are a lot of apps. But if you’re into the whole social media thing, we can hook up at MapMyRide.com.

My knee has been quiet, but I try to remember to ice after each ride. I have an ice pack at work and more at home. I think the fact I forgot to ask for toe clips is actually good for my knee; the part that gets sore feels like it would be unhappy when I pulled up on the pedals. Unscientific, but if my knee is happy, I’m not changing a thing.

So now I’m three weeks in, almost 200 miles logged, butt and knee not complaining. I’ve driven to work four times, and ridden all the others. Ten more miles will go on the bike today, as I ride it over to Ye Olde Bike Shoppe for a free tune-up (and to buy some more accessories).

So far, so good.

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4 thoughts on “So, the Bike

  1. Congratulations on the ride…and the lifestyle. By 3 mile commute to work by bike doesn’t quite do it for me, so I try to ride for an hour before going into work. We’ve had a little issue with fires this past week that actually postponed “Ride your bike to work day” from last Friday to two weeks in the future, when hopefully we’ll have all open roads and good air quality.

    Don’t give up on toe clips (cages) yet. You probably wont ever really pull up with cages (like you would if you went with clipless pedals with cleats), but they will keep your foot centered over the pedal for maximum efficiency on those down strokes.

    • Cages on now, and I do pull up. I just can’t help it, especially uphill.

      Knees were starting to get unhappy (might be totally unrelated, tough to tell, was using the elliptical trainer a lot) so lately I’ve tried to go back to mostly-push-down pedaling because I really do appreciate the secure feeling I get for placement on the pedals.

      Another under-appreciated accessory: gloves.

  2. I’ve been having fun with a twice weekly 16 mile bike commute to school, but I’ve had more encounters with bad drivers than I’d really like to admit.

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