Monthly Archives: October 2016

10 Things I Hate About Biking

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Post biking face

I have decided that since I am biking a lot, 3-5 times per week, that I want to do a few more posts about biking. I have another two in mind after this one. But it has become such a big part of my life recently that I have been thinking about it a lot, and since I have a blog, I have decided to share those thoughts with my readers.

Biking as a kid, I did not really think about it much. I just got on the bike and peddled away. Biking was transportation. It was freedom. It was a way to hang out with the other kids in my neighborhood. I never really thought of it as exercise, although clearly it is. It was just fun.

As an adult who recently started biking again after a 20+ year hiatus, I think about it probably way too much.

Today, I’m going to write about 10 things I hate about biking.

  1. It is hard work – OMG it is hard work. People who bike regularly make it look so easy. Don’t fool yourself. It is not.
  2. Hills – Hills suck, and by hills, I mean up-hills. Down-hills are kind of awesome. Up-hills feed back into #1. They are hard. I have to peddle harder. I sweat more. I breathe heavier. I struggle. I fight. Sometimes, I get off the bike and walk up the hill.
  3. Peddling – Peddling is hard, especially if I am peddling up-hill. Nonetheless, I cannot bike if I do not peddle.
  4. It is scary – Biking is scary. Especially if I’m going fast, and by fast I mean, well slow really. Because I’m way slower than most other people on the trails. But still, the potential for crashing, falling over, running into people is very real.
  5. Crashing my bike – I haven’t yet. I’ve been pretty lucky. I have stumbled here or there. I even ran into a wall, sort of. But I haven’t really had a wreck or even tipped all the way over.
  6. Cars – Let’s face it, cars are very scary to people who bike. They are very dangerous. If you’re in a car and you have a small accident with a car, chances are good you will be fine. If you’re on a bike, and are in a small accident with a car, maybe not so much. You would think cars would be more careful around bikers, but they are not. At least I assume they are not. That’s the safest way to be around cars. Assume they are dangerous and have every intention of hitting you. Get out of their way.
  7. Pedestrians – Pedestrian and other bike traffic are dangerous as well. Pedestrians, small children, they all just walk right out in front of you. They don’t look. And they never will. I saw an accident in DC one time when I was walking to work from the metro. A pedestrian crossed against the light and while she looked for cars, she did not look for bike traffic. She walked right into the bike lane without looking and the biker ran right into her. She then got up and berated him. The laws tend to favor the pedestrian as the biker or should be on the lookout for them at all times, but seriously, they are stupid sometimes.
  8. Hot weather – Weather can make all the difference in a good ride or a bad ride sometimes. I have biked in extreme heat. The one time, it was about 100 degrees and because of the humidity, we were under a heat warning. I required a lot more water. I actually ran out before I made it back home and was afraid I was going to pass out. I ended up walking my bike the last quarter mile. I’ve been sunburned and even have a strange tan pattern on my hands because of my biking gloves.
  9. Cold, wet, windy weather – The weather here is starting to cool off. I actually like biking on cooler days, but colder weather comes with it’s own risks. If I do not dress properly, I could catch a chill and get sick. The wind also makes it harder. Biking on really windy days is tough. It is kind of like biking through marshmallows. The peddling is harder. Going up-hill is harder. It sucks. Oh and across bridges on a windy day? Scary! I’m also concerned about the falling leaves. If they get wet and I bike through them, my tires could slip and I could have an accident. Plus as the temperature drops and precipitation turns to ice or snow, the weather will eventually prevent me from being able to bike.
  10. Fear that I will quit – All of the above things I hate are basically about me facing my fears. The nine reasons I hate biking are all reasons I could use to quit. I fight every day that I bike to get out there are peddle my 8 mile roundtrip route. Every time I get out there, I consider it a success no matter how far I ride, how difficult the ride, or how I feel. Some days, it is all I can do just to get my biking gear on let alone get the bike out the door. I have to fight the myriad of things going through my head that tell me it is OK not to bike today. I have a headache. I’m tired. I have to work later. I worked last night. I have to do laundry. The cat needs me to stay home. The sun is shining. It is cloudy. I could get caught up on XYZ tv show before work. I slept too late. I never game anymore. I could get an hour of gaming in. The day ends in a Y. Yet, so far, none of that has deterred me. I just hope as the weather turns wintery, I can continue to be as determined to bike, even if it is on an indoor stationary bike at the gym.

What I Think About While I’m Biking (Hint: Not you!)

I have been biking quite a lot recently. I try to get out at least 3-5 times a week. I have even biked to work, although I do not do that often. I’m often hot and sweaty after I get there and the ride home, while primarily downhill, is mostly on city streets and is kind of brutal and scary.

A few months ago, a friend of mine, or maybe someone I know only slightly posted this meme oh Facebook:

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I think the person was trying to be encouraging by showing how judgy they are not by posting a meme on Facebook. I was slightly offended by it and became more so the more I thought about it. I’m not upset with the person, just the idea. The idea that there are good fat people, those who exercise or do something other people deem to be healthy. And bad fat people. To me, this is just another form of fat shaming.

The idea that my health, my appearance somehow belongs to other people is offensive to me. If I do what you think is the right thing, I’m worthy of praise, and if I do not, I deserve derision.

Now that I am biking myself, I’m here to tell you that while I’m biking, none of that matters. Here’s the secret. Fat people bike for the same reasons skinny people bike…because they love it. Yes, it is exercise and helps to build muscle mass and burn calories, but that is not my primary motivation.

So I thought I’d share some of the things I actually think about while I’m biking. (hint: those thoughts have nothing to do with you or what I think you think I look like!)

  1. Balance! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa Whoa! Don’t fall! Don’t fall!
  2. I put my feet not the pedals! Whoo hoo!
  3. OK, pedal, pedal! Don’t fall!
  4. I’m biking! I’m biking!
  5. OK get to bike trail…
  6. Big hill! It’s downhill, you can do this!
  7. Holy crap here comes a car! It’s OK! It’s OK! They’ll go around me.
  8. Whew, they went around me. Catastrophe averted.
  9. I made it to the bike trail! OMG, it’s uphill! At least it will be downhill on the way back.
  10. On the way back: How can the bike trail possibly be uphill in both directions?? Seriously? Who designed these trails?
  11. OMG, my legs.
  12. OMG, my butt hurts.
  13. OMG, I cannot breathe.
  14. Just breathe!
  15. OMG, I think a bug flew up my nose!
  16. Now my nose is itchy!
  17. Can’t take hands off handlebars to scratch nose.
  18. I have to scratch my nose.
  19. Scratches nose. Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Don’t fall!
  20. Making bike trail part of the sidewalk…not a good idea!
  21. Case in point…who decided to put a lamppost in the middle of the bike trail/sidewalk? WTF? img_1858
  22. Bike around lamppost by railing and risk running into the railing and possibly tumbling down the embankment and into the creek? Or bike around lamppost street-side and risk tumbling into traffic? Nice.
  23. Preparing to bike up a short, but sharp hill. I can do this. I can do this. Uh oh, someone is coming downhill fast in my lane! He’s not looking up. Look up, look up look up! “Hey, look up! Coming towards you!”
  24. He moved, thank God.
  25. Lost momentum. Great, now I have to walk up the hill.
  26. OMG, I didn’t know I could sweat this much.
  27. Family with kids, “I’m on your left!” Please, God, don’t let the kids run out in front of me!
  28. Did the runner I just passed going downhill just pass me as we are going uphill? Holy crap, I’m slow!
  29. When does this get easier?
  30. Does it have to be so hot out?
  31. When does this hill end?
  32. Breathe! Just breathe!
  33. You can do this!
  34. Home at last!
  35. I so totally rock!

I do not think about what other people think I look like. Not at all. I think about safety and the other people I see on the trails. I do not want to put myself or anyone else at risk.

A friend of mine recently asked me that since I live in an urban area and I bike on the streets a lot if cars scare me. The answer is, they terrify me. I have a healthy fear of cars. Every time I have to cross a street or bike on the street, I’m terrified. I know most drivers are cautious and do not want to hit me, but in that moment, all I can think about is trying to avoid being hit. I yield to everyone.

But here’s another secret, I spend most of my time on my bike being terrified. Terrified I’ll fall. Terrified I’ll run into a pedestrian. Terrified of going uphill. Terrified of going down hill. Terrified of going too slow. And terrified of going too fast. Still, I get out there.

So, why do I do it? I do it because I have to. Not because I’m required to, or that the doctor told me I must. I do it because I love it. When I’m on my bike I’m not concerned about what I look like or what anyone else thinks of me. It is the only time I feel free from the judgment of other people; free to just live in the moment. I think that more than anything gets me out there on the trails as often as possible.

I see people of all sizes on the bike trails. Some a much smaller than me, some much bigger. One girl in particular stands out. I saw her this weekend and I think she was biking with her boyfriend. She looked like she was struggling. Still, she was faster than me. The two of them whizzed by me without a problem. I later caught up with them as they had stopped for water. She saw me coming and smiled. She looked just as hot and sweaty as I felt. I smiled back and gave her the biker nod – the nod many bikers have given me. A nod of recognition; of camaraderie; a welcome to the club. I hope she sticks with it and loves it as much as I do.