On Memorial Day, I went for a bike ride for the first time in almost four years. A week later, I went for my second of the season. I learned some things.
1. Pittsburgh and cycling. We try…
There are several really nice trails in Pittsburgh. It’s getting to them that’s the challenge. There are bike lanes here and there but they are sparse because we just don’t really have a lot of room to expand. It’s unfortunate because lack of bike-friendly roads means general lack of knowledge about cycling. This leads to frustrated drivers, and potentially dangerous circumstances:
2. Automobile drivers can be real jerks.
Being that my first ride was on a holiday, not many drivers were out. The ones that were tended toward patience and passing with plenty of caution. My second ride was on a weekday afternoon, around 1:30p. I guess the traffic can be explained by it being such a nice day? I had people passing me on the right, and honking at me. It was a completely different experience. I probably should have gone around 10:30a, long after rush hour but before lunch, but I’m not entirely certain that would have made a difference. And I mean I’m no perfect driver. In fact I drive like an idiot sometimes. But cyclists, man. Even when I wasn’t one, I could look at a cyclist and think, “hey they’re really vulnerable compared to my thousand-pound vehicle. I should slow the eff down.”
3. I do not plan on doing this professionally.
I will never be a rider in the Tour. And that’s OK. I am very aware of my bad habits. I am reactionary, and yet slow to turn. I still can’t take my hands off the handlebars for more than a split second (to push up my glasses, for instance.) I signaled once today! That was impressive. Although a lot of this may have to do with the fact that…
4. I need a new bike.
The bike I’m riding is the mountain bike my brothers bought for me when I was 12. It’s too small (and I’m very short so that’s just shocking) and the seat is too low and hard to adjust (you need several tools to do so). I’m pretty sure not all of the gears work anymore. The brakes probably need to be replaced. However, it’s all I’ve got for now. I _may_ build my own at Free Ride, an awesome little gem in this beautiful town. (See, we try.)
5. Riding a bike and glasses don’t go well together.
Currently, I have one whole pair of glasses. They are the only pair with the correct prescription. If these went away, I would not be able to see. At all. I am virtually blind without them. So wearing them while riding a bike makes me nervous. Let alone when I’m sweating and they’re constantly falling off my face.* Unfortunately I really dislike contact lenses (plus I don’t have any of the right prescription right now) and I don’t plan on getting $3,000 lasik surgery anytime soon.
6. I am not as adventurous as I used to be.
Although I am starting to understand the benefits of downhill to get momentum to go uphill. However, I am still TERRIFIED OF RIDING DOWNHILL. Pittsburgh’s not exactly great for that, because HILLS. WE GOTS ‘EM. WE GOTS ALL OF ‘EM. Overall, though, I am very likely to just get off my bike and walk it past anything relatively awkward or obstacle-ridden. This is probably good, for now. But even four years ago, I wrecked my bike because there was a very narrow passage through large rocks and I was all “WHATEVER. I CAN DO THIS.” and then I fell on said rocks. And my knee was bleeding down my leg. And I was a badass. And walked home a little prouder. That scar is still there — pretty intense.
7. Most importantly, I like riding a bike.
I plan to do this more often and I’m excited about it. I didn’t realize what I was missing out on. I definitely need to get a new bike, but having a crappy one is better than not having one at all. If everybody who could ride a bike, rode a bike, I think we’d have a lot less problems in the world. 🙂
*Actually they do that anyway, ever since I lost a little weight during yoga instructor training earlier this year. Once, I actually sneezed my glasses right off my face. Onto the floor. It was a little bit adorable, and a little bit sad.