I bought a bike. That is it below. I justified spending the money by figuring that if I ride it to work everyday for 11 months it would be cheaper and faster than riding the bus. Plus, I can’t stand waiting for the bus. The bus that is supposed to come every 10 minutes, but actually arrives in a maddeningly random pattern that means I am always just missing it as it arrived early meaning the next bus will be 15 or so minutes out.  Anyway, I’ve learned a few things about riding a bike and I’ve listed a few of them below.
  • A decent bike makes a huge difference. This one is a huge, huge step up from what I had before. Lighter, more efficient tires. I still don’t like riding, but it is better on this than the last one.
  • If  your wife tells the friendly bike guy at REI your butt hurts when you ride he will explain to you in rather specific detail what a perineum is (I already know, thanks) and why it gets sore when you ride your bike.  Not a conversation I thought I would ever have with anyone, anywhere, let alone in a retail store with a stranger.
  • Drivers don’t understand hand signals. In fact when I signal right they seem to think I am waving at them.
  • Lights don’t change for you even when you are in a bike lane.  You have three choices:
  1. Run the light (just do it).
  2. Wait for cars to come (you may wait a very, very long time).
  3. Either get off or ride your bike to the curb (even if you are in the far left turn lane) and press the crosswalk button, then wait some more.
  • Bike lanes are the trash cans of the roads. They are filled with pot holes, broken glass, loose gravel, pinecones, fast food containers and dearly departed pets.
  • Biking is too efficient and doesn’t burn nearly enough calories. I only burn 44% of the calories I would burn from running the same distance.
  • 30 plus mph is lots of fun and just the right amount of terrifying.
  • I will never “break even” with the cost of a bus pass because the required accessories (fenders for rain, rack and panniers for stuff, pumps, replacement tubes, etc) cost a small fortune. You could get a decent bike for less than an expensive set of panniers.
  • At a signal, when the light turns green I can beat most cars off the line and across the intersection. It is simple physics that I have a lot less mass and better gearing for that 2 seconds of the ride. There are a few exceptions. The following people will floor their car to beat me across the street:
  1. The person in the car next to me is a man of any age driving a sports car
  2. The person in the car next to me is a man of any age driving a really crappy car.
  3. The person in the car next to me is a man under 25 driving any car of any kind.
  • People have three ways of passing:
  1. Never actually pass. Just ride right up next to me so that if I were to swerve a few inches I’d collide with your front bumper.
  2. Pass me in residential areas at about 60 miles an hour.
  3. Pass me at 60 miles per hour without moving over an inch even when there is no bike lane. This one is preferred by cab drivers.
  • At the bottom of every hill in which you finally get up some momentum, there will be a stop sign forcing you to eat up all that lovely kinetic energy, grinding it up into worthless heat in your brakes. There will be no coasting for you!
  • You aren’t supposed to use all of your gears. In fact some combinations of them will never, ever be used. You aren’t supposed to let the chain go diagonal. So in the first front gear you can use only 1-4 or so of the back set, the middle front gear can only use the middle few gears in back and the third gear in front can only use the hardest, upper gears in the back.  I stole the picture below (highlighting in green which gears you can use on an 18-speed) from a very thorough page with lots more details. I’m not sure how I managed to ride a bike on and off for thirty-one years without knowing this. This is why the internet is now my official best friend.

Being the geek I am I have attached my running GPS to the bike and have been tracking the time it takes for me to ride to and from work. Plus I like to see how fast I can get down the one decent hill (record is 32 mph so far). You can see that I am trending a little faster as the days go, but I chalk that up to my increased willingness to run lights (safely), rather than some improvement in . Each light I run cuts a few minutes (10-15% of my total trip) off my time compared to waiting for it to go green again.


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1 Comment on What I’ve Learned In My Two Weeks Of Biking To Work

  1. kathleen says:

    Ahhh…this is why I love you. Well, one of the million reasons. You certrainly are your father’s son!

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