I bike to work. Not because I am saving the planet, refusing to drive a car, keeping the air clean, conserving oil or most of the other reasons you might think of, although they are all nice side-effects. I ride my bike to work because I like to ride my bike. I also ride my bike to work because it's an easy way to get the exercise I need and the bus, to put it mildly, is torturously boring. Biking is faster than the bus. Depending on traffic, 30 to 40 minutes faster.
I used to have a car. It was a nice car. A Subaru Outback. I bought it off of Ebay. Before I left Boise last fall, as I was anticipating living in San Francisco and starting to put things in boxes, I thought to myself (no kidding), "I'm not really going to need a car there." "It's just going to be a big hassle." Low and behold, four days after I arrived, a wonderful woman who is now my good friend ran a red light and smashed the #*)@&$* out of my car. No one was injured and her insurance company was happy to buy it from me for more than I paid for it.
Sort of like a magic trick only less predictable. I already knew that one must be careful about what one says to the universe. I had no idea how much I didn't want to have a car. I don't miss it and it saves me a significant amount of cash each month for it to be in car heaven. No insurance payment, no parking tickets, no fuel to buy and no parking lot fee. By not having a car I save approximately $250 per month without parking tickets. Not bad.
I admit, it's a bit of a hassle to ride to work. I pack my work clothes and shoes in my backpack along with a travel blow-dryer, hair brush and washcloth. I bike in biking clothes and change in the bathroom. It works out OK and no one has complained so far about my appearance. I get that it's probably easier for me than for most women because I don't wear makeup and my "uniform of choice" is trousers and a long sleeved t-shirt.
Riding to work has many rewards. It's a chance to experience the commute in a different way. I get to really see the beautiful flower beds at the corner of Pacheco and 35th. I say hi to pedestrians and other cyclists. I ride through Golden Gate Park and smell the eucalyptus and pine. I get to see the city rise up in front of me in all different weather as I crest the top of Uclid each morning. It's beautiful.
After I cross through the park, I ride part of the way home on Irving. It's always busy with cars double parked and pedestrians who cross in the middle of the street. The best thing about Irving at 5:30 p.m. is the smells. It smells like dinner. All kinds of dinner. French fries, curry, garlic, asian food, indian food, american food and it all smells good. Some nights it makes my mouth water.
Tonight there was a car waiting for a parking place. There were five other cars honking like crazy. This situation always makes me smile. My story about honking is that people are "honking for joy". I don't really know why each driver is honking, so why not for joy? Tonight I told myself that they were so happy that the guy might actually be able to park that they were all honking in support of waiting for the car to leave so he could back in. . . I know this seems silly, but it really takes the negativity out of it for me. Try it. Just once. I guarantee you'll smile, if not laugh out loud.
The distance to work is 6.2 miles, so if I ride 5 days a week, that's 62 miles. I have yet to ride all 5 days. There always seems to be something, like the event I have to go to on Thursday night, or a board meeting, or rain, that keeps me from getting in all 5 days. Maybe next week.
It's easier to ride to work than it is to ride home. And, thanks to my friend, Marsha Franklin, who lives in Boise, Idaho and is an award-winning reporter for the Public TV Station there, I may have figured out why. She sent an article out on Facebook that talks about nutrition and exercise Eating to Fuel Exercise. What I learned from the article is I should pack half a peanut butter sandwich to work and eat it at 4 p.m.. Sounds oddly yummy, actually.
I do have a new concern around spending a lot of time on my bike. I thought it was really heathy for me to ride a lot. Marsha posted another cycling article on Facebook a couple weeks ago that gave me pause. It's called Is Bicycling Bad for your Bones? Yikes! The article says that "recreational cyclists" don't have anything to worry about. What is the definition of "recreational"? The article also says "If you do race or train hard and often on a bike, consider a bone scan."
I don't race but I do ride quite a bit. This is a real concern for me. My father has osteoporosis and had my mother not died an untimely death, she would have it, also. I had a bone scan a couple of years ago and I was at 110% for my age range. I'd like to keep it that way. Of course the answer here, as suggested in the article, is lifting weights. And making sure my nutrition is good.
I'm also considering participating in the Aids/Lifecycle Ride next summer. It's only 545 miles over 7 days. The longest day is just over 100 miles. The rest are shorter. It's fully supported with great food and fun every evening. I hear it's the Creme de la Creme of Charity Rides. I also hear that it's an amazing and fulfilling experience. Probably in the top ten of a lifetime.
Sounds fun, doesn't it? . . . How about you join me? If I can get three other people to commit to the ride, I'll do it. Do check out the website before you say yes.