Ride Your Bike!!!

March 29, 2020

Ah social distancing. How I loathe you. While I have gotten to sit around and have an excuse to do nothing. I am finding myself getting antsy. Sure it has been nice to binge watch YouTube with the kids but I am itching to be anywhere but but inside my house. Lots of time and decent weather means it is time you ride your bike.

Occasionally I will commute to work during the summer months. Commuting can be enjoyable although it is riding to get to a destination, not so much riding to enjoy the ride. Commuting is able how to manage the load you have to carry and planning efficient routes to get where you are going. For example, my commute usually involves carrying clothing for work, my lunch, all my tools and extra tubes, and dropping off my kids. There are multiple products to carry things on your bike. My setup is an Ogio backpack, a top tube bag, and a trailer. You can find all of your accessories at your local bike shop.

Bike n Trailer
My setup for toting kids around.

Focusing on the ride and not the destination is key.

The Colorado Springs shop that I would like to highlight in Ascent Cycling. Their website is linked here. Here is their facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ascentcyclingcolorado/ . If you have not already, please leave a like for their page. Ascent Cycling is a full service and sales shop. They have a wonderful selection of new and used bikes and also have all the accessories needed. I have bought a few things here and had a tuneup. The service is fast and friendly. Perhaps the best thing about the store and staff is that it is owned and operated by bicycle enthusiast who actually ride and they encourage people get out and ride your bike.

Quarantine has provided some extra hours for me. I have found excuses to leave the house and short bikes rides at lunchtime help me keep my sanity. It has been a while and my sitting bones were super sore after the first day. I take 30 minute lunch breaks and after hooking up the trailer to take my boy along, leave me with about 15 minutes for an actual ride. This is only enough time for me to get 2 miles or so on my tank of a mountain bike and that’s OK. My boy and I will ride along and talk about the things we see and 2 miles is plenty of time to find a hill and get the blood pumping through my body. The other nice part about just riding is I do not have to plan my route or what to take. Relax and just go.

Life has been slow so focusing on the ride and not the destination is key. Commuting is good and riding is better. Being out in the fresh air and sun is amazing. I have even been excited to see a long hill because I know that will get a little thigh pump. Gyms are closed. I have not been able to do any lifting so hopefully this will help with jump training too. Yet just another reason to ride your bike, maybe you can learn to dunk too.

Commuting Tips

So commuting is a large part of bike riding for some. Of course there are people with more experience and better tips and maybe they can chime in down in the comments below.

  1. Plan your route and if this is your first time, pre-ride it before having to actually use it. Google maps is great for starting but you will need to know where the transfers are, where the trail leads, and if it is feasible for you to do the ride. When you see 300 ft of elevation change, it may be important to know if it is a slow grind the entire ride or a short change. Also get an idea for traffic patterns if you have to be on the streets with all the crazy drivers.
  2. Know your limitations. Of course we all think we are young studs and can still do things we used to do when we were young. Think about it, can you really average 20 mph for 7 miles each way? Is it more realistic to think you can average 7mph the entire ride?
  3. Know your gear and its strengths. I commute on a mountain bike with front suspension and a hardtail. Is this ideal for speed? Absolutely not. Most of the trails I encounter are concrete but there is the occasional break in the concrete where I have to go through sand or gravel. I prefer a bike with a wider tire for these situation and I make do with what I have. If I were strictly riding my road bike, I would have to adjust my route and that is not something that I want to do. I also find the mountain bike more comfortable.
  4. Pack lightly. Your motor for this trek is your body. Less weight means more efficiency. Keep that in mind when you are riding in Colorado. There are lots of ups and downs that you may never notice in your car. You will certainly get to know the terrain on your bike. learn to distribute your load evenly and practice packing what you need closest to your cent of gravity.
  5. Pack a water bottle, tools, and an extra tube. Get lights if you will be riding in the dark.
  6. Leave what you can at the office. Leave your dress shoes there if you can.
  7. Clean up is a snap. At my building, we have showers. I can leave things in a locker the entire week or until I drive to the office. If you do not have this option, you will want to have a leisurely commute or pack things to help clean your body. a change of clothes and undies helps. There are products specifically designed for commuters or you can keep some baby wipes with you or at your desk.
  8. Do it! Plan to ride the night before, get your stuff ready, check the weather, check your bike all before going to bed. The next morning when you wake up, you will have less excuses. More importantly, you will feel prepared to go out and ride your bike.
  9. Support your local bike shop when you are able. Amazon is great, we all know that but what is even better is a friendly employee whose obvious enthusiasm for getting you to ride your bike is way better.
  10. Wear a helmet and protective gear. Lots of us older folks remember riding with no helmet. We always say well we survived back then, this generation is a bunch of ______ insert rude comment here. It is important to remember that safety is smart. One, your old behind does not bounce like it used to. When we fall, we stick to the ground and it hurts. Do you need to wrap in bubble wrap? Of course not. Is it smart to protect your head, YES!!! Think of it this way, prepare for the worst, hope for the best. You do not know when that irresponsible pet owner will have their dog off the leash, or when the walker/biker with their earbuds in does not hear you coming behind them and makes an erratic movement that brings you to the ground. You may be the most responsible and best rider ever but the public you share the trail with may not be as responsible as you. Be safe and gear up.

Well, there you have it. All my tips for commuting. Bike riding is one of the best things ever. I hope you can tap into the feeling of learning how to ride your bike and how exciting it was as a youth. Riding is a sense of freedom and a great way to escape the stress of everyday life. Riding is a great group activity too. I wish I had some insight to share on downhill mountain biking but I have never been. Maybe once this virus clears up, one of you experienced people can take me under your wing and show me what that world is all about. Until next time. Play hard and stay cool.

-Adam

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