Mar 11, 2013

March Challenge Update: Biking to Work

We’ve been without internet access at the new apartment – something I wanted to try to help us save money as well as stop wasting so much time online. That plan backfired. So much happens online these days: communicating with my people (not one of whom lives in this state), reading news, any take-home work from my internship, and of course posting to this blog. Forgive me, dear reader, for not posting last week. I’ve been trying to find time to get to the coffee shop to use the wifi, but it just hasn’t panned out. Alas, I’ve given in and we will be getting internet access (at the reduced introductory rate) on Thursday. After that, you can expect to hear much more from me J

On to my update…

If it was an easy habit to get into, I wouldn’t need a challenge to make it happen, now would I? In week one of my March challenge, I biked to work all of one time. To be fair, I only went in to work three days last week because on Monday and Tuesday I was still hacking like a smoker and didn’t want to scare my co-workers. When I finally went back to work on Wednesday, it was snowing (!) and the ground was wet and icy. Never mind the slipperiness; I don’t have fenders. I didn’t want to walk around work all day with a wet line up my derriere from my bike tire throwing street water. So I drove, which was fine because I gave myself three drive days, remember?

On Thursday the ground was dry and I wasn’t about to give up another of my precious drive days. I rode to work. Let me tell you, the ride is really lovely. Most of it is on a greenway that crosses a little brook. The first leg of the trip from my house started with a steep downhill. (Well, steep for this flatlander, anyway.) The rest of the ride (about 10-15 minutes) is a very mild but steady climb.

It was a cold day – I think it was in the twenties when I left in the morning, and although it reached the forties by afternoon there was a biting wind. I got all dressed up for the ride in: long underwear, wool socks, mittens, and a winter hat under my helmet. About half way to work, I started sweating. By the time I reached the office, my hair was drenched with sweat. I was overheated…but that didn’t last long. At one point the business owner came over to tell me that I had the coldest spot in the office. Boy, could I feel it. Between my chilly location and my sweaty clothes, my body temp dropped continuously throughout the day until at 4:30 pm I realized I was once again wearing my winter hat, along with half mitts, and my jacket over my shoulders. The bike ride home was sounding less and less appealing. To top it off, my lungs were not ready to jump into a bike ride after two weeks of sickness. I was tired.

I emailed my trusty B, asking him to pick me up on his way home from work. Little did I know, he was leading a workshop and would be leaving a half hour late. When I hadn’t heard from him by 5:30, I decided to brave it and head home on the bike.

Of course, the first 2/3 of the bike ride home would be down hill. It felt like the wind was whipping through my sweaty clothes right to my bones for that long 10 minutes. My helmet, squished down over my winter hat, was giving me a killer headache. And I was still feeling run down from my best-flu/worst-cold-ever. I was a wreck. I finally got off my bike, took off my helmet, and called B again, this time talking through frozen lips and tears. He was still 20 minutes out, which was about how long it would take me to walk the rest of the way home. So I walked, thinking about how fantastic a hot bath would be to melt my frozen body. The last leg of the way home, though, was a steep uphill that I hopped on the bike to complete, and by the time I got home I was fairly thawed.

I drove to work on Friday, and again today.

Although this post makes it sound like a complete failure, I’d say I’m on the road to completing my challenge successfully. I learned a lot on my first ride to work. First, I need to do quite a bit more work the night before if I hope to make it in on time in the morning (somehow a bike commute takes longer to get ready for). Also, I will not wear long underwear and other excessively warm clothes on the way to work (when I’ve just left my warm house and will travel mostly uphill), but will pack them and put them on for the ride home (when I’m freezing from my day at the office and travel mostly downhill). Finally, I learned that even when I’m freezing and miserable, I still very much enjoy the ride. It is just gorgeous, and that will keep me motivated to get on that bike every day.

It is warming up here, which will make the ride easier. But I’ve discovered another alternative way to get to work. If I get up extra early and stay at work a bit late, I can get a ride with B. His route to work takes him within walking distance to downtown, so hopping a ride to there wouldn’t use any additional fuel.

And even after one day of riding, my lung capacity increased substantially. Yep, I think I can do this.

Check back next Monday for an update on how this week goes.

What do you think? Failure? Success? Does it matter?


  1. Joey - you need good biking rain gear. Good for snow or rain. Once you get the right gear down you're golden. Good work gal :)

  2. Angie- I think you are right. Do you have any recommendations for gear? I'm thinking about one of those bike ponchos...