Experimental Bike Commuting

a new day, a new lesson, and a new gagdet | 03/31/2010

So, today was the first day of Spring that I haven’t felt completely miserable(pollen allergies + Spring = not fun), and I took the opportunity to get back on the bike after at least 2 weeks of not riding. Keep in mind I had only ridden 5 or so times before that 2 week stint of sickness, so while the timeframe may seem short, my legs apparently felt we were inactive for an eternity.

I reversed my normal route, shifting it from 1 large hill with a long downhill section followed by a smaller hill with a downhill section to what felt like one really long uphill section with varied grades and one really steep downhill section. It felt a lot tougher, but the early fatigue could have easily been after effects of the sickness. Today was also the first time I didn’t look for the window of opportunity right after everyone had made it home from work and right before they started to go out for dinner and whatnot, thus avoiding a large portion of traffic.

And from this, I learned something that I assume all cyclists encounter at some point: people are assholes. I may be employing a bit of hyperbole here, but bear with me, this was my first traumatic cycling experience since the days when my father first took away my training wheels and taught me how to ride a bicycle(or as I remember it vividly, taught me how to fall, run into inanimate objects, and bleed profusely).

A car came by me, on a neighborhood road, downhill so I was going pretty fast, and I literally felt the mirror brush past my hair. Granted I have a good bit of hair and it was blowing around from the movement, but that’s still pretty ridiculously close. And god forbid someone not try to run you over making a left hand turn in a freaking neighborhood. You’d think people would be more courteous when they are around their place of residence and could so easily be followed, revealing the location of their home to someone they may have aggravated…

I think I was more ready for these situations than I thought I would be, though. For any of you looking to make the switch, read as much as you can find on defensive biking and keep a cool head, it made the experiences way easier to deal with.

Anyway, I only got about 2 miles in before feeling like my legs really wanted me to stop, and that was all I had planned bikewise, until something hit me much later in the night.

I feel like I may have committed a community faux pas, but this is just one that I couldn’t help. I’m not sure what the cycling community’s view on Wal-Mart is, other than I know that most of the things you’ll find there and not anywhere near the quality you would find at a bike shop or at least a sporting goods big box location, but this one tiny item seemed harmless enough.

And before you say anything about it, I know this was further down my priority list, but it was an impulse buy.

I happened to be in Wal-Mart and was perusing the bike area, just checking out the pricing and brands and trying to gauge the quality of the items there, when I noticed something I have been researching online and was comparing at REI the other day: the bike computer. I remember seeing several 3, 5, and 7 function ones for around $30-$45, which I didn’t think was too bad. Here on the shelf, the last of its kind, was a simple, cheap, 15 function bike computer for $20. They got me. I caved and bought it.

I’m sure when it breaks soon I’ll be kicking myself for jumping the gun on it and for not going with a reputable brand and supporting a venue that promotes cycling and works to provide us with quality products.

The contents of my bike computer package.

I know its not the highest quality, but I think it'll serve my purposes, and it was way cheaper than ones that did far less.

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    the challenge

    can one lazy guy overcome his sloth and convert to commuting by bike?

    over 100 days remain...

    the cost

    Red 1980 Zebrakenko Storm: $140
    New Tires & Brakes: $56
    Bike Computer: $22
    Total (as of 3/30/10): $218

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