Saturday, November 20, 2010
Biking as a sport is loads of fun and often done in groups or bike club rides. Most folks like to bike with other people. Most folks bike for social companionship. Few ever bike alone as it looks odd if you are out there by yourself. Most folks who pass you think, gee, poor slob, she has no friends. She is all alone on the roads. How dangerous!
Well, this year, after biking exclusively with other folks, I got the courage to do it alone. I carry a cell phone, I can change a bike tire and I tend to bike on roads that are familiar to me. I make a route and off I go. After a full season of "alone biking" I have discovered it is a different activity when out by yourself.
It is completely silent. No one is talking. You tend to look around more and notice small stuff. You see birds, plants, trees, flowers and small animals. You hear the wind and the sounds of leaves falling. You get to a place where you are no longer biking but just enjoying the outdoors around you. You forget about your heart rate, your speed, your pace and all the stuff many weekend warriors worry about. Your mileage is not important. The only thing you want to do is to be out there; pedaling and moving quietly along the country roads.
It becomes more "zen" like. I imagine many runners feel this same way as running tends to be a singular activity. Solo biking is relaxing and quiets the mind. Far better than sitting at home watching TV or sweating away in a spinning class. In a spin class, all you think about is how many calories you are burning.
Solo biking is worth it. You have to do a lot of it to get to the point that you stop fretting over the cars and getting buzzed or taunted. That all slides away and you reach a point where it is just you and the road and your bike.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Frey is commuting 60 miles a day from West Chester PA to center city Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania. Frey sold his car to help pay for grad school. He had to spend some cash to get his bike "commuting worthy".
Panniers were a must. He did 10 weeks with a backpack and realized he needed panniers to tote gear and food and liquids. Reflective jersey a must as well. Frey has front and back lights, each running 400 lumens of light. Battery packs are attached to his bike. Frey bikes with a lot of weight on his bike. It is heavy when you pick it up.
Frey is 6'7" and had to get an extension for the fork to get his handlebars up high enough. The bike is a store bought Cannondale 63 cm, more than 5 yrs old. He has a setback seatpost and 185 cranks.
His supplies consist of tons of food and his trademark "Triathlon Juice". He carries a pump, CO2, tubes, tires and tools. Way more than the normal bike rider carries. He comes home at night and has to be prepared for most anything as the bike stores along the way are closed.
To quote Frey, "bike commuting is the best part of grad school". He likens it to taking two additional classes as he spends 4 hrs a day on the bike. So with 4 courses already, the commuting puts that up to 6 classes.
One thing Frey has noticed is that the regular folks along his route remember him and they wave to him. The crossing guards sometimes help him cross a 4 lane highway. Heading home at night and in the cold takes lots of planning. Lots of layers are packed in the panniers.
Penn is very accommodating. He has an indoor spot to lock his bike. He rents a locker right in his classroom building to store his gear and a change of clothes for classes . So he does not have to drag winter coats and stuff to walk around campus. His wardrobe is a pair of shorts and a t-shirt that he leaves in his locker.
Frey is closing in on 10,000 miles for the year. His most mileage ever for one year. Biking is such a cool way to get places. Most folks find millions of excuses as to why they cannot bike commute. It does take preparation. It takes time and dedication. Frey gets in around 9 pm Monday night and is back on the road at 7 am the next day.
Anybody can get in a car and drive to work. It takes someone special to bike there. Hats off to you Frey. A job well done.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
my bike and Cookie the cow (her name was on a tag in her ear)
I have discovered that this time of the year in Pennsylvania is the best time for biking. I love, loves the low 50s for biking. Love not sweating. Love the changing leaves. Love the gusty winds. Love seeing all the animals and birds. Deer everywhere. Herons and hawks gracing the skies and the landscape. Biking is the bestest ever activity. It is just plain fun.
Get out there and bike.
Get out there and bike.