owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
I've had my bike for a little bit over a year now--it was on the 12th or 13th that I fractured my elbow, and that was when I'd had it for only a couple days.

This is how far I've gone in the past year. )

I've clocked at least 360 miles since July, and seen most of the cowfields, manure heaps, rural gas stations, and trees within an eight-mile radius of my apartment.

I'm more confident in traffic; I get honked at less than I used to, and I can glance back, signal, glance back, and change lanes without plowing into the curb. (Though lately when I glance back all I see is hair--must get haircut soon. I haven't had one in a year). I can strike a decent balance between shrinking in fear from vehicles and getting in their way gratuitously.

I have not had an accident since the elbow thing. That's progress.

I have spent way more on bike stuff than a person should, but it's still cheaper than owning a car--and less than most bike geeks spend: headlight, pump, helmet, new tubes for tires, padded shorts, tool doohickey, lock, and basket. (I still do not have a water bottle cage--I just carry my water in my basket). And a cycle computer which just broke, and will be $20 to fix. My incompetence as a cyclist is enough to reassure me that spending more money will not actually make me any more competent.

I go sloooow. I inch up small hills on my lowest gear, at a mere six miles an hour; I average maybe 8 mph for longer distances. I don't go longer distances; the most I've gone in a day is twelve miles, I think, when decent cyclists think nothing of going 40. But four miles along the hills of Franklin street used to seem steep to me, and seems much easier now. I know how to change a tire, and to bring my cell phone and enough food and water with me, so that I don't live in fear of having something bad happen to me when I'm too far from home.

I hope to make it to Rivendell before too much longer. And...I'm a little proud of myself for that. ^_^
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owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
I'm lucky to live in a place like Carrboro (if I can't live in New York or Chicago or Boston or San Francisco or Toronto or Vancouver--yeah, I'm a city girl at heart)--aside from the to-die-for pastries at Weaver Street Market, it got an award for its bike-friendliness. A substantial portion of the population commutes by bike; there are nice bike lanes, two bike shops in Carrboro and another in Chapel Hill, and overall, people really don't mind if you ride on the road, as long as you're reasonably polite about it. This isn't true in, for example, the suburbs of North Raleigh. (Other advantage: cycling all the time mitigates the damage from the to-die-for pastries).

Problem is, I'm getting healthier. So why not go for a Saturday morning ride, fifteen miles altogether? Answer: because once you get two miles out of town, the shoulders drop off the roads, and the friendly hippie liberals change to rural conservatives driving big trucks. I was coming back, limping wearily along at five miles an hour or so, a couple inches left of the shoulder because there essentially was no shoulder besides a white line painted on the crumbling edge of the highway. An old brown van sails by me, dog inside barking its head off, and I hear from inside, "Get off the road, butthead!"

It didn't really rattle me. After twelve miles, I didn't really have much room for thought beyond "Tired. Hot. Water. Food. Eugh eugh there's sweat in my hair"--and there is, after all, a certain sense of satisfaction that comes with going twelve miles powered by a bottle of Orangina, an energy bar, and one's own too legs.

But though I bear no ill will against 99% of drivers, I don't think I'll be able to help gloating a teeny tiny bit when gas goes up to $4/gallon. Just for that guy. (Yes, I know that it would represent a major blow to all sectors of the economy, causing inflation everywhere, but...let me have my gloating).
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owlectomy

April 2017

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