Archive for ‘How To’

May 28, 2012

Getting Started Bike Commuting: A Blogspedition inside Bike Style

Barb on a bike wearing a green dress

A typical day on the bike: Dress, pumps, helmet, gloves.

The blog now stands at over 170 posts after a year of writing. Lots of advice is sprinkled throughout every post, along with my ponderings and miscellany on bike policy, infrastructure creation, and other aspects of becoming a bike-friendlier world.

This post serves as a categorized round-up of many of the posts you may find helpful if you’re thinking about bike commuting.


Riding and Mechanics


Hauling Stuff

Getting Started as a Commuter

Route Selection

Bike Parking


Rules of the Road

Paying Attention

“Roll” Models

Women featured in our “On a Roll with” series talk about how they ride and other posts about or by individual women riders. Be inspired!

Snapshots of Riding Days and Destinations

These posts are of the “where I rode my bike today” variety to give you an idea of how easy and flexible bike transportation can be, whether it’s for the round trip to and from work or a Saturday full of errands. Many of them also tell you what I was wearing, in my ongoing mission to demystify and de-Spandex everyday biking.

Your Turn

  • Some topics are missing from the list. Helmets and hair, for example–an issue for many women and one I’ll tackle in a future post. What topics would you add?
April 11, 2012

30 Days of Biking: Hills and Miles and Darkness, Oh My!

Today’s easy-squeezy 8.4 miles, broken up into nice manageable chunks of 10 minutes or less, nonetheless provided plenty of reminders of yesterday’s butt-burner: over 27 miles total, with a huge chunk of that spent slogging slowly up a hill climb that I thought would never end.

But it was fun, honest!

The set-up: I did my usual quick little ride to work, sprinting because I was going to be late to a meeting and beating my “race time” by at least 30 seconds.

After work I dressed in one of my cute little Nuu-Muus, a pair of actual (gasp!) bike shorts (couldn’t find the adorable lace-trimmed Sheila Moon lingerie knickers, alas, and decided I’d ride with more padding than Pedal Panties provide), and a white Sheila Moon bolero, along with (another gasp, please) bike shoes that let me clip in.

Just the thing for a nice long ride out to Spokane County Raceway Park, where Sweet Hubs and his compatriots were pitted against each other in the first of the season’s Twilight Series Road Race put on by his club, Baddlands.

Google Maps results list for routes from Riverpoint Campus to Spokane County Raceway ParkRoute selection required some comparisons of Google Maps choices. They offered three, with the kind suggestion, “Or take Public Transit” linked below, in case the idea of a ride of 9-10 miles with hill climbs (no matter what) didn’t appeal.

Their first proposed bike route, West Trails road accessed through the West Central neighborhood and Riverside State Park, involved dropping clear down to the Spokane River Gorge and climbing back up out of it. Beautiful, sure, but can’t we stay on top of the grade?

Route 1: West Trails via West Central neighborhood and a lot of extra climbing.

Route 2, while a mile shorter, carries with it a more hostile traffic setting, taking Sunset Boulevard (not bad) to US-2 (not good, although I’ve ridden it before—the highway is the main route to a correctional facility, a casino, and Fairchild Air Force Base, making it busy and full of people who may or may not want to be making that particular trip). The one thing this route does get almost right is the section from downtown west to the decision point where you have to head toward West Trails or stay on Sunset Boulevard.

Route 3, Government Way and West Trails, again has part of it right. But someone needs to ask Google Maps programmers, “Pretty please could you take terrain into account, by which we mean grade?” This route, too, drops you down into the river gorge, this time via Peaceful Valley, then brings you back up out.

Getting closer, but still some unnecessary concessions to gravity.

The key to my route selection, since I’m not training for the Tour de France, sounds a lot like advice in drawing up battle lines: Hold the high ground for as long as possible.

As soon as you start enjoying one of those exhilarating “Wheeee!” moments down a long hill the back of your brain should remind you that riding a bike is like riding a roller coaster: A down is generally followed by an up that will be a lot slower and not nearly as fun.

So the route I chose is the Barb route, based on feeling comfortable enough to skip the Centennial Trail and stick to streets that are straighter, knowing neighborhoods to cut through to skip some of the streets with more traffic, and eliminating as much climbing as possible for as long as possible.

  • Spokane Falls Boulevard around to where it connects to the short stretch of bike lane on Riverside Avenue, then into Browne’s Addition onto Pacific.
  • Through the roundabout at Cannon by The Elk (a bike-friendly restaurant!) and down to Sunset Boulevard.
  • To Government Way and out past the turn to Spokane Falls Community College. Not long after that stoplight, Government Way becomes West Trails and you start to cliiiiiiiiiiimb.
  • West Trails becomes Hayford Road, you take a quick right on Sprague, and you’re practically there. Or if you’re me, you go past “there” and end up visiting the vicinity of the correctional facility before backtracking and wending in through the construction to the raceway exactly an hour after I set off.

Where—ta-da!—I arrived in time to give Sweet Hubs a good-luck kiss before sending him off with the rest of the B-pack for their criterium (several fast laps around a relatively short, flat track). He won with a nice sprint at the end, which is a great payoff for all those winter nights he spent on the trainer in front of a movie.

We then rode home together through the gathering darkness, shivering a bit (wish I’d had those knickers to cover my knees!) until the ride warmed us.

The downhill “Wheee!” was incredibly fast considering how long it took me to climb going the other way. I couldn’t believe it when we’d already reached the traffic light by SFCC and I knew we had just a few more miles and a bit more climbing, thankfully separated by some straight stretches and downhill rests, and we’d be home.

We heard frogs singing their hearts out, felt the difference in temperature as we entered the urban core and felt the day’s warmth radiating out, and made it home safe and sound with 27-1/2 miles on my cyclometer and 1,392 calories burned according to my heart monitor dealio.

And today, I felt every single mile in my legs when I climbed, whether it was climbing a hill on my bike or a set of stairs at work to help rack up the mileage on my pedometer. It will be a couple of days before I try anything like that long a ride again, but it felt great to be able to do it.

I want to build back up to the mileage I used to accumulate that made it easy to plan a 30-40-mile ride with Sweet Hubs and I have to start somewhere.

Just, maybe . . . somewhere flatter?

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Climbed any really long hills/mountains? (Lately or ever?)
  • What’s the hardest part of it for you and how do you deal with that?
March 31, 2012

Another 30 Days of Biking–Can We Do It? Heck Yeah!

Rosie the Riveter. You Can Do It!Last September I recorded my daily path through 30 Days of Biking, making it through the month riding (and blogging) every single day.

April is another 30-Day-er and I’m in again. Are you with me?

April can be the cruelest month, involving as it does a week’s worth of travel to Washington, DC, for me that will make bike time a little more challenging (that and other issues shot down my attempt in April 2011). Good thing DC has a bike share program! (Although it would be even cooler if I could find someone to borrow a bike from.)

I’m not promising 30 blog posts this time; that was tougher than the riding! I’ll do the weekly “accountability” posts because keeping track does make a difference.

Want to sign up? Register at 30 Days of Biking, check them out on Facebook, and if you’re on Twitter be sure to use #30daysofbiking to talk about your rides.

30 Days of Biking has only one rule: Ride your bike every day.And here’s an offer for you: If having a bike buddy to encourage you will help you complete the challenge and email encouragement will fill the bill, send me an email at bikestylespokane-at-gmail-dot-com (fooled you, spammers!).

I’ll send you all a daily email, and if fame is a further incentive and you have stories to share about your adventures I’ll feature them in blog posts here (with whatever identification you want me to use).

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Are you up for it?
  • What will represent the biggest barrier or issue for you (that you can foresee at this point)?
  • How do you plan to get past that?
February 11, 2012

Unmindful Biking by Yours Truly

At times I try to approach biking as a genuine mindfulness meditation. The immersion of self into the experience feels really wonderful when I get there.

At times, though, I’m immersed in something more like dumb-ass-ness. Herewith, three stories of times I was not 100% mindful on the bike (all of which took place some time ago and believe me, I learn from each one):

Dumb #1

I’m 3rd in line (taking the lane) behind a car and a pick-up truck at a red light (westbound on Spokane Falls at Bernard, for you Spokanites–in front of FedEx Kinko’s).

Light turns green. Car goes. Pick-up goes. I go.

I look down to check what gear I’m in or some such.

Car stops for unknown reason. Pick-up stops. I am looking down so….

I run into back of pick-up, fall over, and scrape myself up badly enough that I’m still bleeding when I arrive at the meeting I’m going to.

Good news: The driver stopped to ask if I was okay and if I needed any help.

Dumb #2 (although I give myself lots of latitude on this one because of the cause)

I’m turning left onto the Southeast Boulevard bike lane from our street. As is our ritual whenever one of us leaves and the other is still at home, Sweetest Husband is on the front porch waving to me.

I make sure it’s safe to make the left turn but…. in my love for my sweetheart and my desire to wave back, I manage to take the turn a little too wide, clip the curb, and fall over, scraping my knee. (There is a theme here.)

Good news: Sweet Hubs didn’t see my fall so he didn’t have to be all alarmed and rush to my rescue. However, I may hear about this now that it has been confessed to the Gods of Google.

Dumb #3 (could have been life-ending)

Sometimes–for some deeply masochistic reason–I ride at least part of the way up Stevens on the South Hill. It’s a heart attack hill with four lanes that split into two two-lane roads, one climbing farther up the hill as Bernard, one swinging left and dropping down to join Grand Boulevard.

As I go more and more slowly up the hill I eventually give up and move to the sidewalk to push my bike up. Someday I’ll climb the whole thing again–I used to ride up Bernard on a heavy old big-box special I called the Iron Maiden.

For the record it’s a 6.8 percent climb for this particular stretch, from Fourth Avenue up to Ninth. If you search for a Google Maps route on this stretch with the Bike option they don’t put you on Washington at all; they quite wisely send you up the much quieter side street Bernard, where your huffing and puffing aren’t slowing people on a four-lane arterial.

As the lefthand lanes swing left they also top out. This is a relatively blind corner for drivers who are accelerating up the hill on a major arterial.

Map of a portion of South Stevens Street, Spokane, WA

You don't want to climb this unless you're in training. Besides being steep, it carries a sometimes scary volume of traffic around blind corners and drivers don't expect cyclists here.

Like an idiot–and I have done this more than once and lived to tell the tale–instead of continuing to push my bike on the sidewalk at this point I get into the lane, clip in and start riding again.

I do always check to make sure no cars are coming. Since there’s a traffic light a couple of blocks down it’s relatively easy to recognize a burst of traffic and wait for it to pass so you’re in a clear zone. But that’s no guarantee, as traffic can come from side streets out of sight around the corner.

On one particular occasion–the last time I ever did this maneuver–I had trouble getting started pedaling after I’d clipped in and almost fell over before I could get my foot free to catch myself.

My pulse raced beyond anything I’ve achieved on a hill climb as I realized how easily I could have died if a driver had come whipping uphill around that blind corner just then.

Good news: I learned the lesson without paying the ultimate price. Never again.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • I’ve confessed some of my dumb-ass-ness. What near-miss did you have that shook you out of some of your less mindful or more careless/complacent biking habits?
February 8, 2012

It Pays to Pay Attention

Back in the saddle again after almost a week in New York City, where people on bikes share streets with New York cabbies and millions of people, and what happens? Tuesday morning I have possibly my closest call ever with a moving vehicle, reinforcing yet again the importance of mindfulness for safe riding.

The scenario: I am riding northbound on Sherman between Fifth and Third, in a stretch that has two vehicle travel lanes and no bike lane.

I need to move into the lefthand lane because I want to be in the turn-only lane to head west on Second, which is a newly paved street (and a bike route). I always make this lane change in this block because the block between Third and Second is really short. There isn’t much time or room in that stretch so I am making a safer move by executing my lane change here–usually.

I do what I always do for a lane change. I look back to make sure the lane is clear, signal the lane change with an outflung left arm, and move into the left lane.

At the same time I am keeping an eye on a big white SUV a few yards ahead that is waiting to pull out of the Primesource Credit Union parking lot on the left side of the street and into the street on which I am riding.

This is the mindfulness part: Always be scanning your environment. Always.

My Sweet Hubs, who spent years in the Marine Corps (active duty and reserves), calls this “situational awareness.” You need mindfulness/awareness when you ride the way you need tires and brakes: essential equipment for arriving at your destination.

I see the gray-haired driver turn her head in my direction. I can tell from the way she does it that this is one of those fake scans. She turns her head but I will bet you anything her eyeballs don’t fully register what is coming downhill toward her. She doesn’t keep her face pointed uphill long enough to see for real.

I know for darn sure she doesn’t see me because she pulls out directly into my path.

I see this coming and am hitting the brakes, turning in the same direction she is heading because that’s how you avoid a collision.

But she isn’t turning into the closest lane to her—the legal turn—the lane I was occupying when she initiated this game of chicken.

Instead she is turning into the second, farther lane, the haven I’m seeking as I maneuver to avoid hitting her. (Oh, the irony—if we collide it will be me hitting her because she pulled out into my path. Who is at fault here?)

She ends up in the righthand lane. I am behind her, my heart going 60,000 miles per hour. I ride up behind and knock a couple of times on her rear quarter-panel, wanting her to see the cyclist who is now behind her. At least I’m not under her.

She makes the right turn onto Third, driving slowly and looking back to see if I’m following, now that I finally have her attention.

I debate rapidly in this moment. Should I turn behind her and wave her into a parking lot, talk with her, tell her how close she came to injuring or killing me through her sloppy and inattentive driving?

Perhaps wrongly, I decide against this. I proceed on my way, and so does the driver of a late-model white SUV, Idaho plates 7B 533. She’s from Bonner County—that’s what the 7B on her plate signifies. That’s an incredibly low license plate number so she’s had it for many years. (I used to live in Idaho; low numbers are a point of pride because they signify you’re not a newcomer.)

At this moment I am strongly reminded of the near-miss I had as a pedestrian a few years ago in the middle of the campus where I work. That driver, too, was gray-haired and not looking.

I am reminded of my father, whose driver’s license was the subject of years of effort before we could get him off the road and end the danger to others that he represented when he kept driving long after his hearing went and after any belief he’d had in the need to follow instructions on traffic signs (like, say, “stop”) had evaporated.

I am reminded of the bicycle/vehicle collisions in our area–some of which have resulted in fatalities and ghost bikes planted as memorials–and collisions around the country that I read about on biking blogs.

I am reminded—yet again—that mindfulness is the most important cycling skill I have.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Do you have a near-miss story?
  • Who wasn’t paying attention?
February 7, 2012

Miss Manners Would Approve: Dealing with Drivers

I try to be an ambassador from the friendly biking nation when I ride. Since throwing a hissy fit or flipping off a driver probably just confirms their existing opinion of people on bikes (since of course we are all 100% identical, unlike those unique individuals behind the wheel), I figure I’m helping a little in our ongoing efforts to build diplomatic relations and perhaps someday be admitted to the WTO (World Transportation Order).

This graphic suggests a similar approach. Consider freaking them out.

Tags: ,
January 23, 2012

Just Like Riding a Bike—Or Not

Alternatively you can point your right hand for a right turn, which I use more often because it's more intuitive.

When someone describes something you learn once and never forget, that person often says, “It’s just like riding a bike!” Meaning you can just get on and pedal away and muscle memory will do the rest.

That’s kind of funny, when you think about it: a bike analogy used routinely every day, probably by hundreds of thousands of people who don’t actually get on a bike very often, if at all, in their adult routines.

How this is accurate: Your body does remember the balancing act you learned all those years ago. You can get on a bike after years of not riding and pedal away—perhaps a bit shaky, perhaps having lost the ability to ride hands-free that you practiced and practiced and practiced in the street in front of your house, but still having the fundamental physical skills.

How this is not accurate: You most likely learned to ride a bike as a little kid. You knew nothing about the rules of the road except what your parents told you. You had never interacted with traffic as a driver. You may not even have crossed the street by yourself yet if you learned at a really young age. Your parents presumably (possibly) taught you the basic hand signals (although I don’t think mine did—when I was little we lived in the wheat and alfalfa country outside of Lewiston and there wasn’t enough traffic to warrant much signaling—I was faster than a combine or harvester).

(I remember riding last summer behind another woman on a bike who confidently signaled her right turn with the upraised bent arm–and promptly turned left. Good thing I wasn’t close enough to be counting on her to execute the maneuver she had signaled.)

Those physical skills from your childhood aren’t enough, though, for navigating city streets as an adult. You’re much more aware of the potential danger and you know more about the traffic flow, but you may not know much more about bike law than you did as a kid, particularly if you took your driver’s test a long time ago. It’s only in recent years that they started including bike-related questions on the driver’s license test.

You may misremember or misapply rules you think you know, too. I’ve seen adults riding against traffic because they’re thinking like pedestrians, but bikes are vehicles and should ride with the flow of traffic. And some places have special local rules, like the City of Spokane’s ordinances requiring you to wear a helmet and forbidding riding on sidewalks in the central business district downtown.

When I moved back to Spokane from Coeur d’Alene years ago, I remember my nephew—who had made the move before me—warning me, “It’s weird—there are lots of bike questions on the driver’s test!” We both wondered why that was. Well, now I know—it’s because drivers need to know the rights and responsibilities of people on bikes. People on bikes need to know, too.

Because riding a bike isn’t exactly, well, just like riding a bike.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • What do you remember about learning to ride a bike as a kid?
  • What do you wish more people on bikes knew about bike laws?
January 19, 2012

On Getting From Here to There–A Betsy Post

A guest post by Betsy Lawrence, AKA “yogaprof,” the founder of Belles and Baskets

I have written previously about how I began bike commuting; now here are a few lessons I have discovered along the way.

Lesson one: Be flexible

Once I committed to biking to work, I started the work of fine-tuning my commute. I soon realized one of my favorite things about commuting by bike—it challenges the brain. I am constantly watching, assessing, and switching my plans.

For example, the first time I biked to work, I crossed the Greene Street Bridge by riding in the car lane. I know the rules—ride a bike as though it is a car. That day I learned to sometimes break that rule. This bridge is a very narrow four lanes and packed with trucks and cars.

I was terrified and realized the sidewalk is a much better choice. It is rarely used, and whenever I see pedestrians on the sidewalk, I get off my bike and wait for them to pass.

I often have to tweak my route or wait for an unexpected delay. Flexibility is part of bike commuting and is good for the brain.

Lesson two: Create a route that feels comfortable to you

I have had to rework my route several times due to road construction. While trying to come up with a new route, I learned that following the advice of a male friend who is a hard-core commuter was not the best plan. I ended up cycling along busy streets in industrial areas, surrounded by stinky vehicles and passing endless buildings and parking lots. The only wildlife I saw was an occasional pit bull or dead rat. That is not what I want out of my ride.

Now when I need to change my route because of construction, I choose to go the more picturesque way; an additional five minutes of biking that is pleasant is preferable to saving time but losing my lungs.

Lesson three: Break the commute into several short trips

To keep my ride from feeling daunting, I mentally break it into four segments: a ride to Barb’s house, a ride downtown, a ride to the river, and a ride to work.

Each segment consists of different terrain, neighborhoods and sometimes even temperature. I can mentally high-five myself after each portion and prepare for the next. It’s not an eight-mile ride; it’s four, two-mile rides, each with its own delights.

And most importantly, lesson four: Enjoy the view and say “hello”

I am privileged to have the option to bike commute. I have a nice, economical car, a pre-paid bus pass, and plenty of time. I am allowed the choice to cycle, and I choose to make it pleasurable.

I have the delight of riding along the Spokane River for a few miles when I bike commute. I see geese, ducks, and dog walkers. While that segment is easy to enjoy, even the most urban parts of my ride have their pleasures: the people I see.

I make it a point to say hello to everyone I pass (yes, EVERYONE) from spandexed runners, to street people with their shopping carts, to kids on skateboards, to folks exiting their Hummers. I figure these moments allow my community to see that cyclists are nice people and they give me the lift as well. I keep my eyes up and enjoy the view of nature and my neighbors. I feel immense gratitude when I can bike to work, and I hope to share that joy with everyone I pass.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • What bike commuting lessons have you learned along the way that you share with beginners?
January 11, 2012

3 Words for 2012 Biking

Several of the people whose writing and social media work I admire—such as Chris BroganChristopher PennJustin Levy, and C.C. Chapman, who pointed me to all the others I list—wrote New Year’s posts on the theme of choosing three words as your guiding stars for the year.

They meant for life in general or for your professional efforts. I thought I’d extend the idea into biking after I looked back at my riding in 2011 (which I was able to do because I logged it).

Consistency—I’ve set goals based on my 2011 riding. The number of days I intend to ride, 250, is a stretch goal—it would mean increasing my riding days by over a month’s worth of riding. This will require me to be consistent in my riding habits. I mostly am, but by setting a specific target, similar to what happened when I successfully completed 30 Days of Biking in September, I expect to be more conscious of the days I don’t ride, and to examine the reasons why.

Variety is the spice of life (words over background of spices)Variety—The flip side of consistency is variety. As I looked back at 2011 I realized I did no really long rides with my sweetheart—something we did a lot more of in previous years. Those days where we set off to ride to Valleyford for coffee and back, which gives us over 30 miles (no biggie for him but a high-mileage day for me), go explore northward, or take a whole Saturday to ride to Coeur d’Alene and back are wonderful time together.

They require me to build up my tolerance for higher mileage, which gets me back to consistency (and possibly even–gulp–training). They’re quite different from the commuting mileage since we ride steadily for long periods of time. Heck, I even wear padded shorts for these rides!

Besides taking more rides of a different type than my daily rounds—home, campus, downtown, grocery store, home—I want to mix up my commuting and errand routes a bit and explore more side streets. I consider that one of the bonuses of biking, since it’s so easy to choose to peel off one block sooner or later than you usually do and you get to see—really see—what that new street holds.

Bikespeditions offer a great excuse for some exploring, of course, as does coffeeneuring. Belles and Baskets rides give me some variety too, and thinking like a bicyclist rather than like a driver puts me on different routes.

Be here now.Mindfulness—This one is on the list as a need and as a want. I need to focus on this because I’ve been noticing that I occasionally do one of those “non-looks” to check for oncoming traffic, pedestrians, and other people on bikes. I’m setting myself up for a preventable collision if I get sloppy and stop paying real attention to the conditions around me. This is probably a side effect of experience, and not a good one.

I want to focus on this because this is one of the joys and bonuses of cycling. Away from all technology, not reachable by phone (unlike you in the car. Hey! Put down that phone and drive!), unable to tweet or post a status update, I can live fully in the moment. But that doesn’t happen if I’m not aware of that moment as it happens.

To be consistent will require mindfulness so I don’t let good riding days slip away accidentally. Riding new routes will eliminate the complacency that has set in and wake up my mind so I pay more attention–also known as mindfulness. Hey, this just might work.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • If you were to choose three words to represent your focus or goals for your riding in 2012, what would they be and why?
January 8, 2012

A Training Ride–to the Fabric Store

My dear Sweet Hubs trains seriously for the racing season. He measures things like watts, wishes he could test his VOmax regularly, talks eagerly about having his leg core-sampled to know his exact proportion of fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers, and does intervals in our front room, watching a movie and using some software he wrote so he can make sure to ride like crazy and make it hurt.

I, on the other hand, do not.

But living with a guy who reads books like Bicycling Science and The Advanced Cyclist’s Training Manual (which he doesn’t find sufficiently advanced) for fun does have its effects.

For example, I know about the concept of training stimulus. If you ask your body to do the same thing day after day–like, say, ride the same basic route to work and home again–it gets very good at doing just that, but not much more.

If, on the other hand, you challenge it in a new way–by riding farther, or faster, or with more challenging hills in the route–the body responds to the training stimulus.

I think of it like this. Day after day, I ask my leg muscles, heart, lungs, and arms (you do use your arms in biking) to do roughly the same amount of work. The “team” I have on hand is plenty to do that job. If I ask a lot more of my team, the existing muscle cells say to each other, “Whoa–I do not want to work that hard again! We need some friends.” So they literally recruit new muscle fibers to be ready for the next time.

Saturday’s ride, therefore, was a “training ride.”

I rode up to the northside Jo Ann’s for a fun shopping expedition with Eldest Daughter that involved lots of time in the yarn aisles (to come: future soft baby pink afghan for Second Daughter’s high school graduation, a very pretty shrug for me in an ocean blue, a pair of long fingerless gloves in ivory for me I’ve been wanting forever for my computer time at home because we keep the heat turned down pretty low, and a slouchy beanie-type hat for Eldest Daughter in a gorgeous teal that matches a scarf I gave her for Christmas. What can I say? They had a sale.). It also involved lots of time looking at scrapbooking and card-making materials; one of these days she’s going to start making bike-themed cards for me to sell.

What made this a training ride? Well, for one thing it was a fair amount longer than my usual route to work and back and the miles were accumulated in big chunks instead of the piecemeal approach that makes up a typical work day with meetings out of the office. So I rode steadily for about 35 minutes just to get to the store–that’s different.

It also involved a stiff hill climb up the Post Street hill, which Spokane riders will know as a nice challenge (or as, “that hill heading to Garland where there’s no sidewalk northbound but I can walk in the tiny grass strip if I have to and push my bike because it’s so freakin’ steep!”). It definitely makes my heart pound in a different way than my sprints through rush-hour traffic.

On the way home I broke my ride into two chunks–we stopped in the Garland District for a snack at the Rocket Bakery–and I got to whiz down the same hill I had climbed with heart pounding on the way north. So it certainly felt like an easier ride, although I always like to point out that I finish my southbound route home with a hill climb because downtown Spokane sits in a bowl.

And again, it was a longer ride than my typical little 7-minute dash from campus to downtown. I’ve mentioned more than once that the reason bike commuting is easy is specifically because most of the mileage comes in these small, sweat-free doses, but that means I’m not challenging myself.

For me to get serious benefit from this particular ride’s training impulse, I would need to keep taking on different types of rides that mix up the demands I place on my body for riding. I’m not proposing to do intervals every few days or monitor my training stress score like Sweet Hubs, but I do want to challenge myself. A few more hill climbs and long rides this year, I think.

Ride Report

  • Days ridden in 2012: 6 of 7 (as of Saturday, Jan. 7; goal is 250 or more)
  • Miles: 45.3 (goal: 1,200 or more)

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Do you do things that actually involve training for your rides?
  • On purpose?
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