Tuesday, August 26, 2008

two wheels instead of four

For the first time today, I biked to campus. Sometime between 8:18 and 8:20 this morning, I grabbed my backpack, and mounted a borrowed bike to make my way to campus. The weather was pleasant, and the ride smooth, until I reached a slight incline. You never notice the hills around you until you ride a bike. The roads were quiet, and I stopped next to another bicyclist at the University stoplight and found myself panting for breath. Once on campus, I faced more inclines, and began to feel the strain in my thighs. Am I that out of shape that a bike ride just under a mile wore me out, or was there too much weight in my bikepack? I locked up the bike, and headed inside. When I sat down, I noticed that my lower back was sweaty. I hadn't felt any heat, so I blame the backpack for that. But man, I'll sure feel the heat around 5:10 when I leave campus! I checked my cell phone time: 8:32, putting my commute around 10 minutes, maybe a little more.

Back in April, I was given a bike, a purple Hercules in the style of an English 3-Speed. My friend Brad volunteered to work on it, and he degreased the chain and derailleur, replaced the intertubes, and then kept it in his garage for three months untouched, before finally returning it and admitting that he wouldn't have time to finish work on it. In early May, I signed a lease for my new house just half a mile from campus, and made the decision to become a bike commuter. I did not sign up for a parking permit this year, saving me around $250. I drove to school yesterday because I needed to go by the grocery store, so I parked in my "cheater" spot - one of the two parking spots designated for the clients at the clinic where I work. If I need to drive and those spots aren't available, I can park in a parking garage for a few dollars.

I think this is doable. I'm sure that my lung capacity will increase and my leg muscles will strengthen, and hopefully soon I won't feel the strain. In the next couple of weeks, I'll take my own bike to a bike shop to finish getting it tuned up. If I think that I might need a more quality bike to commute with, then I may look into purchasing a new bike or look for something on craigslist. Even if I'm satisfied with this bike, then I may still look into finding a cheap or free second bike, for friends to use. I can also easily bike to a Starbucks and my favorite bar/taco restaurant, La Bodega.

It might be a little sweatier, but I think most days it'll be convenient to bike, and on days when it's not, I still have some parking options. I'm excited about this change, and nerdy enough to write a post about it!

The retreat this past weekend went pretty well - thank you for the prayers! I'd like to blog about some of that experience, but if that doesn't happen, then I'd love to tell you about it another time!

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