Monday, June 30, 2008

The Traveling Bike Guy

While quite diligent doing my job, or learning a new technology, or writing in my blog, or... (oh, you get it), when it comes to moving my butt out of a chair I'm, to put it mildly, a lazy bum. Or as someone suggested to me a couple of weeks ago "a senior lazy bum, about to become Director of lazy bumness" sad.

Although almost every hotel I visit has a modern gym, all those workouts and time spent running in place just never attracted me. To me, a minute spent not reading anything new, or doing something intellectually stimulating is a waste.

But, there comes a time in every man's life, where he has to face facts and start exercising more than his brain. Seeing the beautiful spring weather outside my window, and since I live in a city that respects and encourages bicyclers (almost every road has a dedicated bike lane), I decided a bike was the way to go. I mean, how hard can it be? You get on a bike, acquire your balance point, put one foot on each pedal and away you go. Right?

Now, I've been "deciding" to buy a bike for almost 2 years now, but today I decided to put an end to this procrastination. I took a cab ride to Sports Authority (3.5 miles away from my apartment) and intended to buy a bike and ride it back. The punishment in case I weasel out and not buy a bike would be a 3.5 miles hike back home.

So, after buying a decent bike (Columbia, pictured above $180), a helmet ($30), a lock ($10), a water bottle ($10) and an insurance policy (don't ask why, it just seemed to make sense at the time - $22), I was on my merry way home.

The first turn was a wrong turn - riding a bike has a different perspective than driving a car. After a short adjustment I started merrily pedaling home. My next realization was that in an intersection, a rider has one extra direction to look at before proceeding to cross - behind him. Luckily that lesson was learned without casualties.

The last, and harshest lesson of the day came very close to home. I left home skipping both lunch and breakfast. I just ate a peach and drank a glass of lemonade, before boarding the cab. Sadly, my body doesn't operate on air alone and very close to home it broke down. I started feeling nauseous and had to sit on a bench, and then lie on the bench, while system shut down. It took me 10 minutes to regain my composure (during which I must have looked like a drunken bum to people passing by). After using some ancient Chinese breathing techniques (not really - just breathing hard and deep smile) to get my blood pressure up, I manged to get home. I've never experienced such a sudden and complete drop of energy in my life (and that includes my army service, where I'm sure I ran longer distances than I biked today).

Here are my conclusions from today:
  • Everyone looks redicolous in a bike helmet - don't let that stop you from wearing one.
  • Even though I've driven a computer and used a car before, I still don't understand why my bike has 21 gears, and how and when to use them.
  • Always expect a car behind you. Even if you can't see it.
  • That hard breathing you hear in your ears while biking is yours smile.
  • Eat and drink before you hit the road. If your body is to burn calories, it has to have some ready to burn.
  • Going from 0 miles a day to 4 might not have been my brightest idea so far - but I don't regret it smile.
Tomorrow I intend to go for a 6 miles ride to Mountain View (and back, I hope). And if all goes well, I intend to try riding every day that I'm home and discover some of the nice parks and spots I've missed on so far. Oh, and if you live in the Bay Area and would like to bike together, drop me a note.

1 comment:

avi said...

First, congrats :)
On the breakdown: it's not only about not eating enough before the ride. It's also about the duration of the ride, and even on the pulse you reach during the ride. 3.5 miles could be just a little to long for a first ride. Take a day off and then ride 2.5 miles. Feeling good?
Keep on riding 2.5 miles for a several weeks, before increasing the distance.
Good luck :)