Bike Noob is proud and happy to turn over this blog to a post by my friend and colleague, Gilbert Martinez. Gilbert is the Vice President of the Austin Cycling Association, the city’s largest bike club. His biking interests are somewhat different than mine, because he is more focused on the utility aspects of biking. But he’s been backsliding lately, and wrote about it in the February issue of Southwest Cycling News, the ACA’s monthly newspaper. The following is an edited version of his article.
I have a nearly all-purpose hybrid bicycle that allows me to do a whole range of cycling — from regular commuting, thanks to a rear rack and panniers, to quick jaunts and errands to my brothers’ houses.
When I travel, I sometimes pack my folding bike and enjoy hitting the streets in new destinations. If I want to go off-road, I have a front-suspension mountain bike that’s raring to go.
What I don’t have, it seems, is the will to ride.
Oh, I believe in cycling — I believe that cycling is better for me on all sorts of levels. I know that regular cycling will ease the symptoms of type 2 diabetes. I know that I’m feeling better, mentally and physically, when I’m riding regularly. I know that cycling is better for the environment and means that I use my motor vehicle less. I also know that simply riding my bike in Austin helps make Austin a more bike-friendly community. Plus, I’m certain that it’s fun because I’m reminded of that every time I ride.
So, what’s happened to my will to ride? Did I misplace it? If I did, have you seen it, and if you have, can you return it, or at least tell me where it’s gone?
Somehow, I’ve fallen off the bike, so to speak, and I’m searching for ways to more consistently get back on.
I’ve got some ideas.
I was inspired at the last ACA monthly meeting when we had a commuter bike show-and-tell. We had a wonderful turnout and a fabulous range of bicycles, including a recumbent. I loved hearing what these experienced cyclists said about what they carried on their regular commutes, how they dealt with night riding and with inclement weather, and how they modified their rides to overcome challenges.
It inspired me to come up with a plan.
First, I think I need to work harder at making cycling easier and more comfortable. For example, I can do a lot to prepare for a work commute the night before so that when I wake up I can get out the door quickly.
But, just as importantly, I think it’s also about challenging myself and pushing out of my comfort zone.
How easy is it to develop excuses if you only rode in ideal conditions? Granted, we have pretty good weather in Central Texas, but we do get rain on occasion. How often have you bailed on riding because of the weather? Because it was too cold, too wet, too hot, too sunny, too cloudy?
In fact, I had planned on riding my bike to the commuter bike show-and-tell but got scared off because of weather reports of steady rain beginning a couple of hours before the meeting. Of course, it didn’t rain, and I was left wondering why I let the excuse win out yet again.
So I’ve decided that 2009 will be the year I get back on my bike in a big way. I’m going to make pedal strokes, not excuses. I’m going to find a way to commute to work, even if it means once a week at first. I’m going to match my beliefs about cycling’s benefits to my actions.
Specifically, I’m getting excited thinking about a trip to Alabama and Georgia in June. Two lengthy rails-to-trails projects were connected last year — the Chief Ladiga Trail in Alabama and the Silver Comet Trail in Georgia. The Ladiga Trail runs about 33 miles from Anniston in northeast Alabama to the state line. On the Georgia side, the Silver Comet runs 61 miles to Smyrna, a suburb of Atlanta.
Remember what I said about comfort zones? I’ve never ridden a century before. I’ve done a metric century (62 miles) and a tad more a few times, but nothing close to 100 miles in one ride.
Time to get out of my comfort zone. I’m looking forward to making 2009 a year of riding, not excuse-making.