Dre\’s Ramblings

Enjoying the ride
May 18, 2007, 10:30 am
Filed under: Birmingham, AL, Commentary, urban issues

Today is National Bike to Work Day as I reported on The Terminal extremely early this morning. Why was I up posting that early you ask? This is in part because my new career forces me to be up before the crack of dawn attempting to figure out what’s going to go on that day. NOTE: As all of us know, it still never really ends up being good anyway 😦 I also had an inkling to do something that I’d looked forward to doing as a result of the job change: ride my bike.

Unfortunately, the body just didn’t feel like moving much this morning, even for a simple seven-mile bike ride. Things have definitely changed.

Now, it’s been nearly 5 years since I started riding my current set of wheels. I got them from John (incidentally the same person from whom I received Ed (a.k.a. Whitekitty) – who appears to be doing much better). It was a replacement for what I’d jokingly called my Ford Explorer early on in my school career – a black Murray with front suspension. Back when I had the “Explorer”, most SCAD students didn’t drive to class; you saw a network of cliques and bikers weaving the streets of the historic district.

As the college grew and I got older, I joined the parade of drivers, severely reducing my dependence on what had been my primary form of transportation. One visit to the doctor about a year before I moved here shocked me back into the need for self-propelled motion. A return to living in the downtown area didn’t really hurt either.

During that time, I rode the bike to work every day (except when the forecast called for rain). I averaged about 3 miles a day on the bike, doing the ride to and from work twice a day (went home for lunch whenever possible) and then riding to the gym to work out most evenings. I’d bike to Grayson Stadium if the opportunity presented itself. And it was nothing to do a 25-mile ride on the weekend or ride out to my Jaycees meetings on Tuesdays (though they’d insist that I get a ride back home) or to ride in the rain (I didn’t think I was going to melt like I seem to now 🙂 )

I thought that by working and living in the same neighborhood, I’d be able to take advantage of that exercise again. So far, the hustle and bustle associated with start up has kept that from being an option. I really miss the release it gave me from life’s problems and the lack of stress that seemed to exist after a ride, or exercise in general.

My old boss reminded me just before I left that I’ve had some extremely bad luck with regards to health since moving to Birmingham, effectively shutting down my maniac-like training regimen. Most of the weight has returned and I’m no where close to the condition I was in when I arrived, making even a three-flight step climb difficult.

Not that it’s easy to ride around town here. There are bike lanes in development and it is encouraged as mentioned in that post linked to above. Those that complain about cycling here in town would shudder when they see what cyclists in the Hostess City of the South had to deal with. Still, I can completely understand that a certain level of intimidation exists when you get on the road here to enjoy the wind hitting you as you cycle through some beautiful scenery. That thought will quickly fade as you hope someone is either using their turn signal or actually going to stop at a light or sign.

Of course right now is an excellent example of why I’m not getting any better. I’m running late for a lunch meeting and I’ll end up having to drive; despite the fact that it’s a gorgeous day out. Or I can just accept the fact that I’ll be late and enjoy the stroll. The hope is to return to cycling where it becomes necessary instead of a chore.  I’m sure that if the bike had feelings, it would feel quite neglected nowadays, watching me type away endlessly on a laptop as it sits their taunting me.

There’s always riding to the farmers’ market tomorrow morning. Hopefully another excuse won’t creep in to keep me from enjoying the ride and the freedom that comes with it.


5 Comments so far
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Last Friday (my first time to ride my bike to work), I was nervous about riding around downtown, but it ended up being less nervewracking than I anticipated. It seems that drivers are used to traveling slowly and dodging slow-moving obstacles in the right hand lane (such as the parking ticket vehicle or cars trying to parallel park). Also, I hope that the presence of CAP has initiated drivers to seeing bicycles downtown frequently.

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