April has not worked well for me in past attempts to complete 30 Days of Biking for various reasons–some of them good ones.
I got a running start on April 2013 by riding my bike every day March 17-March 30 (I didn’t ride March 31–gave myself permission to take a day off before heading into the big month). How it’s gone so far, in a list that proves it’s about the dailiness, not about the mileage:
April 1: 1.3–work/meeting
April 2: 1.0–work
April 3: 2.3–work/errands/meetings
April 4: 1.0–work
April 5: 1.0–work
April 7: 5.3–to Zeitgeist Coffee with Sweet Hubs for a treat, then off to explore the Leschi neighborhood in our hunt for a new place to live and back home through the rain
April 8: 1.0–work
April 9: 1.0–work
April 10: 1.0–work, with a drenching rain on the way there, beautiful sunshine in the afternoon that I figured was my reward for riding in the morning rain, but such a long workday that I rode home at 9pm in the dark.
April 11: < .5–possibly <.25–happy little jaunt about 4 blocks long to a meeting, after which I rode another half-block and then whoops! There I was! Suddenly inside Belle Pastry purchasing an almond croissant and other goodies for the road trip to Spokane that afternoon. See what you can do on a bike because it’s so easy to stop spontaneously without worrying about parking? My penance for the almond croissant was pushing my bike up a very steep block to get home. Would have been better for my waistline if I’d had to crank out another 7 miles or so, but hey–urban living.
April 12: 2.75–Sweet Hubs and I took a spin to Rockwood Bakery for breakfast to revisit one of our favorite date spots when we lived in Spokane. We used to live only three-quarters of a mile from the bakery and this was often the destination of a weekend afternoon walk. The crisp air woke us right up–so crisp I wished for my helmet strap ear covers left back in Seattle because I hadn’t paid quite enough attention to the forecast.
April 13: 12.55–The forecast was grim: mid-40s, 30-40mph winds (!), rain, possible thunder. After Sweet Hubs headed out to his bike race, I headed out on the bike to the Spokane Bike Swap at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center, figuring that if it got really, really awful Spokane Transit would serve to get me there and back again. (Bikes and transit go together like chocolate and peanut butter.)
My reward for persevering: A sunny morning and a tailwind almost all the way to my destination since I was heading west to east. It wasn’t until I turned north for the last half-mile or so that I really felt the brisk crosswind. Over the course of the day the wind stiffened but by the time I headed back, it had dropped again and wasn’t bad at all, and the sun still shone through patchy clouds. In fact, partway up the hill on Southeast Boulevard I had to stop and take off my outer layer because I got so warm from the exercise.
I stopped at Lindaman’s to have coffee with travel-writing/riding friend Katherine Widing and it was only while we sat safely inside that the weather went nutso, running through sunshine, clouds, sleet, a sprinkle of rain, and possibly a little snow in quick succession, only to have all of that wrap up into just another cloudy day when it was time to head out. Rain? Never materialized while I was riding–it’s all in the timing. Thunder? Not a peep.
April 14: 2.55–After another day at the Spokane Bike Swap, Sweet Hubs and I took a light spin around Manito Park before dinner. When I told my hostess why we “had” to go for a bike ride she said admiringly, “Oh, what a wonderful kind of spiritual practice.” I hadn’t thought of it that way–more prosaically I’m competing with myself in years past–but she’s right. This commitment increases mindfulness and awareness of what each day holds. It would make me even more aware of my days and what I put on the schedule if it weren’t so easy to get to work on a bike.
Funniest sight on this trip: 3 boys, maybe 13 or so judging by their height, standing at the corner of 25th and Bernard with grocery bags over the heads on which they had drawn faces with cut-out eye holes. One of them held a sign saying “HONK” and as we went by I rang my bike bell. One of them laughed and said, “That counts! That totally counts!”
Yes, yes it does.
Total mileage for the first two weeks of April: 34.4
Location, location, location: I really do live ludicrously close to work. Our need for a car was dramatically reduced by moving into a city with lots of services and a high level of transit service. With Zipcar available there I foresee a future free of car ownership; Zipcar has everything from cargo vans to luxury vehicles to Cooper Minis and it would be a lot of fun to pick what we wanted to drive when we needed to go somewhere using a personal motorized vehicle.
Weather, while one of the factors people often cite as a barrier to bicycling more often, was seldom an issue. And that’s living in Seattle, with its reputation for rain. Most of the days I rode on dry streets, or perhaps damp from an overnight rain. Only one day had real rain and that day cleared off to turn brilliant and beautiful. If I’d been smart enough to get out and ride during that beautiful portion of the day I would have felt genuinely rewarded for getting to work by bike through the rain.
Weather is much more immediate for you when you bicycle, and that isn’t a bad thing. A driver who had ridden to work inside a metal box with the rain bouncing off the hood and the windshield wipers slapping through rush-hour traffic would have noticed the sunshine later in the day, but would drive home as insulated from that as from the morning rain. I’ll take my personal encounters with both types of weather since that makes my appreciation of good weather much more visceral. From inside the car quite a bit of the weather may as well be a programmer’s choice inside a video game for all the impact it has on your life.
Travel doesn’t have to interfere if you plan on bicycling as part of the travel. I knew my husband would take the car to his bike race and that I would bicycle for transportation to the Bike Swap. That was the plan, not an imposition or a surprise. Like committing to 30 Days of Biking as a means of getting you on the bike, planning your bicycle transportation so it’s expected, not unexpected, also helps you get rolling.
Yes, yes, I AM fueled by caffeine. In capturing these ride reports I noticed that I’m on my way to completing a coffeeneuring challenge. Coffeeneuring creator Chasing Mailboxes of Washington, D.C., calls for visiting 7 different coffee shops in 6 weekends. Only Saturday and Sunday rides qualify so only 2 of the 4 stops noted above count, but I know myself. I’ll do it.
- Do challenges like coffeeneuring or 30 Days of Biking motivate you to ride more?
- How about one-day events like Cyclofemme, coming up May 12–do you make a point of getting on your bike to be part of something bigger?