Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ruby takes her first ride in a long time!

I finally got on my bike (Ruby) today!

My bike and I, we have taken an extended hiatus from each other since my college years in Salt Lake City, where we would head to the foothills or mountains or southern Utah (you may have heard of Moab) any chance we could get.

Being in a period of expansion, having two kids and pets, has derailed my bike adventures for the most part with exception of riding the neighborhood or renting bikes on vacations. But Betty continues to inspire change in me (and I hope you as well), as I utter a Betty mantra: "Are you doing something better today than you did yesterday?" Step by step.

Just like most things in life, starting is half (if not more) of the battle.

After telling myself I "should" get on my bike, then the pep talk from Howell, and the adornment ceremony, using various bumper stickers (Trees on Fire, Burn Gas AND Calories, and Better World Betty) and the purchase of the perfect dinger (which can warn other riders, pedestrian, and cars that Betty is on the loose), not to mention the shift in clothing mindset (I mustered a pair of my mom's old running tights and a bright colored t-shirt), I was ready.

So last week I show up and in my rush to drop my preschooler off on time, I've forgotten my helmet and realize my bike seat is at home on my front lawn and the ACCT map of Cville is in the kitchen! Back to the drawing board. (The return movement is important too. Don't give up - stay engaged)

Today the stars aligned (and my mindfulness arrived), though, and I found a beautiful bike path from my son's preschool to my work station - the downtown mall. I find I mostly travel to the same local shops in close proximity to each other: Preston Ave Shops, Cville Coffee, ACAC, and the downtown mall, all bikeable. I'm lucky. The real question for today was could I stay off the 250 bypass (ever increasing traffic of free bridge) and the wonderful answer is yes! The even better part of that answer is that the path includes beautiful views of the rivanna and centuries old birch and oak trees as well as wildflowers. Though the path is circuitous and thus will take longer (like the green-living path in general), it will be well worth it. Especially as the leaves start to change: one of my favorite times in Virginia.

Howell said the next time I should take you all with me on the ride - strap a web-cam to Ruby's handlebars! Hmmm. That could be interesting.


From me (a novice) to you:

*What to wear: Safety first, be seen! (Sorry eco-fashionistas!) I picked out the brightest piece of clothing I could find (which didn't exactly work - it's a tank top the bright happy yellow of Sweden's flag). Also my usual attire was posing a slight problem: I noticed this morning I don't have anything that isn't too tight to ride a bike in or jeans with too flappy bottoms (turns out Howell was ready with his rubber bands, I mean special techno-geek pant-leg ties)

*Planning: It's important to consider your commuter path. Howell suggested to drive that path first with new eyes. Considering the visibility and accessibility on a bike. Note: ACCT (Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation) has a bike mentor program ready and waiting to help you.

*Trial run: It's important to get out there and try it, preferrably with a biking buddy. See what routes work, what routes don't depending on what your needs are. Find the safest routes. Time your trip to see how commuter biking can fit into your schedule.

*Have fun: the more fun we have doing something, the more likely we will continue to do it.

*Most important: stay alert and defensive and present while biking!

No comments: