Posts Tagged ‘biking’

Settling back into daily life

The epic Pacific Northwest road trip is over. We logged 1940 miles in the car, camped in beautiful redwood forests, enjoyed a rare entirely sunny four day stretch in Seattle, and vowed to go camping more often.

A week before the trip, I got my Sour Apple Green Citizen Tokyo folding bike delivered at work. Besides the minor logistical problem of them delivering it with *pink* brake and shifter cables (which I switched out to white), it’s a great little bike for a reasonable price. I rarely buy new, but in this case, it seemed worth it to me to have a trouble free bike on such short notice. I used it to putter around the campgrounds, and put it to the real test during our time in Seattle. Not only was it the perfect solution for traveling between our hotel and the conference center with ease, but we took a great ride from downtown to Fremont to see the troll. On the way back, after a tough (for 16″ and low gears) three block long hill, I got to enjoy an amazing stretch of downhill riding on a bike lane that was very smartly designed! The buses on that street stopped closer to the center, and had a little traffic island separating stops from the bike lane. I was able to fly down the whole way. 

I was surprised to see a lot of touring cyclists on 101 and 199 (the road that connects 101 to 1-5 in between Crescent City, CA and Grants Pass, OR). It seemed like a tough ride – narrow shoulders, lots of curves, and many cars navigating those curves who were not locals. I’m not too familiar with the trails in that region – hopefully, there are some better options! Mad respect to all of those who were doing it, though – I hope to someday be in good enough shape to join them. 

As far as finances for the trip, they weren’t perfect. We had a snafu with our propane stove – we left the hose at home, and since we had saved money by buying an older model off of Craigslist, we actually got burned on the deal because they no longer sell replacement hoses for that model in any store, even ones that specialize in Coleman stoves. We ended up having to buy a new stove, and in the days beforehand when we were trying to figure this all out, we bought more meals on the road than originally intended. We still did pretty well – we made enough yogurt and granola to have some for breakfast everyday, and I made a lentil and tomato soup in the crockpot in our hotel that lasted us several meals. We also made good use of the peanut butter, jelly, and bread (one loaf gluten, one loaf gluten free) that we brought with us. 

I also bought swimming trunks and flip flops – several opportunities came up to go swimming, and I was craving the exercise. I will get good use out of them, because I loved swimming so much that I intend to hit up the local city pools. 

Upon our return, I scrambled to clean the house and do laundry for a few days, and continued to eat crap food, but that ends now. I just made a batch of curry and rice, and some granola for the morning. My old regime of bringing lunch to work every day is back in effect. I was able to save a remarkable amount of money for this vacation very quickly by pre-planning meals and eliminating other frivolous expenses, even as I socked away money for retirement. (I ate much healthier, too.) It was a good lesson in what is possible when you prioritize saving. Now, on to the next adventure!

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Biking has changed my life for the better.

In the midst of another adventure

Next month is my one year anniversary of learning how to ride a bike.

A week after I got the basics down, I started to use my bike to commute. I had purchased a $70 retro mountain bike on craigslist, mainly because I still thought that big knobbly tires would somehow help me balance. As I got a little better, I traded those knobblies for smooth fat tires, and then got myself a light little singlespeed bike for my birthday in September. Once I discovered the joys of Bikelink lockers at BART, I started commuting on the singlespeed.

I was never a big fan of driving; while I admit that it can be fun to drive down a quiet country road, freeways and urban traffic always made my rage levels in a car go out of control. I always drove with at least one window open, even in cold weather, so I could use more of my senses – sound, the whoosh of the wind – to guide my driving endeavors. Driving anywhere there are lots of cars is a giant game of moving about in queues, with tons of people who would never cut you in line in person happy to barrel their way in front of you in a car.

When I bike, I avoid the main roads. Whether I ride down a small side street with multiple “speed humps” or a main arterial, I’m going to be going the same speed – but on the side road, I’m enjoying the scenery, not fighting for space, and passing by happier people who are out walking their dogs, playing with their kids, or working on their gardens. It feels more humane.

I used to do all of this with walking, but my range was more limited, and my feet haven’t been cooperating as much. Natural flat-footedness, years of working retail jobs, and possibly my excessive walking in my teens and early 20s have left the spot where the top of my foot and my ankle meet a little tender. I ended up in a orthopedic boot with a bruised nerve last year, and now I have to wear thick socks to keep my shoes from digging into me in that spot. I feel no pain whatsoever on the bike.

The bike also encourages me to exercise. I am the kind of person who slacks off on exercise for the sake of doing it; there has to be another built in motivation. My arms have gotten bigger because I lift heavy things at work, and my legs have gotten stronger because I want to explore farther with each ride. (I’m sure my cardio strength has gone up, too.)

I have some biking related life goals – one is to get a bike trailer and be able to haul anything I need home without a car. The other, loftier goal is to train up to touring standards and do some long rides – maybe even attempt a cross-country ride!

Finally, not attempting to nurse an old beater of a car back to health and randomly dropping hundreds of dollars for unexpected part failures has done wonders for my finances.

This is my sports car. It has since acquired lights, a small back rack, and a rack trunk bag with an awesome snow owl pin on the side:


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