A few weeks back, I bought myself a bike. I set a goal to drive to work less often on days where I don’t have events or activities immediately after work. I could take Metro to work, but I could also commute by bike, which is even better for the environment, and better for my health. Plus, since I’m getting my indoor cycling certification next month, I wanted to get myself more comfortable on bikes in general.
I went to Performance Bicycle
in Columbia, Maryland, and got a great deal on a low-end, functional, hybrid bike. The bonus was that it was in one of my favorite colors!
I have to stop the story for a moment here: Performance Bicycle wasn’t my first stop on my bike shopping tour. I actually went to REI
to see if they could fix up a bike I was given by a friend. The guy at the store totally insulted me, told me maybe I should “go back to Walmart” (there’s not even a Walmart anywhere nearby), and didn’t even offer to show me any bikes in the store! Mind you, I have an REI membership, and do a fair amount of shopping there for my outdoor activities, so as a fairly regular customer, I was really offended by this guy! I had also intended to buy a helmet, and I had some REI divided money to spend, so this other guy, who was helping me while the first guy was looking at the bike, did
help me out with the purchase of the helmet. But still, the bike shop guy definitely convinced me to go somewhere else to buy the bike. I felt like I was having a Pretty Woman
moment, man! There is nothing wrong with buying a bike at Walmart, first of all. But second of all, as a person working in a store, aren’t you supposed to be trying to sell someone merchandise in your store?! I mean, I worked in retail, and I can’t imagine saying anything like that to a customer! But I digress. Back to the original story!
So, I bought the bike, and they installed a bell and a water bottle holder in just a few minutes while I was checking out. I got a membership, which resulted in my earning a bunch of points for my purchase (I bought a membership because I knew I was going to save more than I spent on it!), which I used just a couple of days later to buy some more gear.
I’m one of those people who believes you have to dress the part when you start a new activity. If I’m going to be a bike commuter, I need to have the right gear, right? So I bought myself some of those butt pad shorts* and a cycling top. I used my points towards the outfit, and ended up spending less than $20 on the whole thing. I loved the colors, and I actually thought it looked pretty cute! The material was pretty lightweight, and it felt like pretty good quality. Trying on the butt shorts was a bit awkward, I have to admit. It felt like I was stuffing my volleyball shorts, which is kind of funny when I think about it now. It also feels like you’re waddling around in a diaper. I don’t know. The whole thing feels very odd, but it definitely helps avoid that bike seat pain!
*Totally a technical term, btw.
Soooooo, sadly, my first attempt at biking to work was a total failure. I got myself dressed, took my little pre-ride selfie, carried my bike down two flights of stairs, popped on my backpack, got on the bike, and… the seat started spinning around. 😐
I tried everything I knew to try to get the seat to stay put, but it did not work! I thought, “maybe I can ride the bike anyway?” and quickly realized that was a terrible idea. So took my local Performance Bicycle I went. Whomp whomp. Apparently, the seat had some bracket on upside down, which is why the seat wouldn’t stay in place. It was pretty quick to fix once they figured it out, but it was a major bummer which meant that I wouldn’t be able to bike to work that day.
I did get to ride my bike the following day for a work event. I took it for a community ride which lasted about 90 minutes and gave me some good practice at riding in mixed traffic. Some points were scary, but in general, I loved it! Now I was ready to try my commute again!
Last Friday, I rode my bike to and from work! It was definitely tougher than I expected, but I felt great all day! I actually got to explore some neighborhoods I’d never seen before, and it was cool noticing businesses I hadn’t noticed in the past. This week, I hope to be able to ride my bike to work at least once this week, though I may even be able to do it twice! I kick off my marathon training this week too, which is actually perfect since we have a holiday on Tuesday.
Have you ever biked to work? Have you ever ridden your bike on city streets? What do you think every cyclist should own?