Sunday, May 4, 2014

The (Almost) Bike Crash Redux

For the first time in three years, I don't have anything that I have to do. I thought a lot about what that must be like during law school when I never had a second to myself and now that I've experienced it I'm ready to be busy again. Having nothing to do is exhausting!

I woke up early yesterday and set out on a mission to bike to the park. My endeavor was partially driven by Friday's eating failure. I bought lunch at Great Harvest Bread Company and ordered one chocolate chip oatmeal cookie with my ham and cheddar on honey whole wheat. The cashier gave me my cookie and the bag of Sunchips I asked for, but when I got home I discovered that the girl who made my sandwich had also given me a cookie. 

If you have never been to Great Harvest Bread Company, let me tell you a little bit about them. It is a chain of healthy-ish bakeries that makes whole grain breads and pastries with whole wheat flour they mill in the store daily. The whole grains are more nutritious than the white flour products you find at other bakeries, but even whole grain bread and pastries can make you gain weight if you eat too much of them. As much as I love the chocolate chip oatmeal cookies at Great Harvest, that extra cookie they gave me was a blessing and a curse. Mostly a curse since I accidentally ate the stupid thing. And by accidentally I mean I ate it for dinner a few hours after I ate the first one. I'm a responsible adult.

I woke up feeling guilty about the cookies, so I deliberately picked a 12 mile route with a bunch of rolling hills. The hills that used to be hard to run up are also hard to bike up, so I took a route that I used to dread running in the hopes that I would burn more calories in less time. It was a good strategy. My 12 mile ride burned a solid 745 calories. 

For the first time in days, I made it through an entire ride without my bike chain coming off, but when I checked my messages the bike doctor had called to suggest I bring Genevieve back to the store so he could go over her one more time and make sure she's fully functional again. I left her there for most of the afternoon so he could try riding her himself and figure out why she's been so petulant lately. When I came back to get her he said that he removed the derailleur and did some tweaking. Genevieve had been making these awful noises when I shifted into certain gears and he explained (nicely) that the problem was user error, i.e. I don't know how to shift gears properly. Shocker, I know. He explained that I can shift gears while I'm pedaling, but I need to pedal with less power while I'm shifting, sort of like when you're driving a stick shift and you have to back off the gas when you push down on the clutch. It had never occurred to me that my short chubby legs were capable of anything close to "power," but I promised to be more gentle on Genevieve in the future. 

At the beginning of the week I decided I wanted to ride at least 50 miles for the week. I was 15 miles short of my goal as of this morning, so I chose a really easy route and decided I was not coming home until my Garmin said I had hit 15 miles.

I made it, but it was a struggle despite my easy route and slow pace. There is some event going on in the park I went to, and there were a lot more people than usual for a Sunday morning. When I go to that park I like to ride on a paved one mile loop that cars use to get around the park. I try to go at low-traffic times, but the event made that impossible. Let's just say that by the end of the ride, I was glad that I ended up leaving the bike store with a fun new bell yesterday, courtesy of the bike doctor.

The first problem was this little old couple in a little old car. They were driving slower than I was riding, which is impressive since I was only going around 7 miles an hour. Most cars pause briefly at the stop signs along the road in the park and keep moving if no one is coming. This couple stopped fully at two stop signs in a row and took the time to point at and discuss the vendors setting up in the park before finally moving on. There was no way I could safely go around them so I tested out my bell. It worked. They heard it and finally started driving less erratically. 

The second incident was more terrifying than annoying. There is a four way stop at one of the park entrances. I got to my stop sign first, paused, and proceeded through the intersection. I saw a driver coming towards the stop sign to my right as I went through the intersection, but kept going because he had a stop sign and there was nothing blocking his view of me. He did stop, but then he came barreling into the intersection before I was through, forcing me to brake desperately and nearly crash into the side of his car. I screamed at him and his response was to apologize and tell me he didn't see me. Next time someone tells me riding in the street is safer than the sidewalk because cars are watching for other traffic in the street, I'll have clear evidence of just how false that statement is.

Fortunately I was almost ready to leave when my near crash happened. I was a little shaken up, but I made myself keep going long enough to finish my ride. Despite all the bad drivers, I had a really relaxing ride overall. Did anyone else head outside to get in some miles this weekend? Hope the drivers were kinder to you than they were to me!

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