So it is that time of year again – Ride to Work day. I am very disappointed this year as my uni exam is on the same day so I won’t be riding to work. However, I’ll ride to the Footscray ride to work breakfast, ride home again, study and then ride to the exam…actually maybe I won’t as I kind of stuffed up my commuter bike trying to fix some issues tonight. Might have to get on the MTB (mountain bike) instead.
So what a year it has been. Looking back it has been very eventful. I’ve gained and lost a lot and the rest of this post will look back on the year that was.
The magic number is 8. I’ve lost 8 kilos, 8cm around my thighs, 8cm around my waist and 8cm around my hips. Riding to work in conjunction with eating a bit better (not a lot) and getting to the stage in the last month where I can ride to work and go to the gym on the same day has resulted in these huge loses. Sticking at it will result in more I am sure.
I’ve also gained a lot in the last year. Firstly, I’ve become addicted. Not only did I purchase my first n + 1 (rule #12), but I also purchased another n + 1🙂 A road bike and a mountain bike sit proudly next to my commuter in the garage. In the next few weeks the road bike will turn into my commuter as the commuter is driving me nuts (will explain later on).
One thing I’ve also gained is a better well being, both mentally and physically. When I arrive to work and I have ridden my bike in, I am a lot happier. When I ride home from work, I tend to be less stressed as the ride home has enabled me to leave my work stress at work where it belongs. My physical health is a lot better, as long as I remember to not use the front brake coming down a hill…
I’ve also gained many friends. By joining the tenax ride, I’ve met a lot of people who have helped me become a better cyclist, so thanks to you all for the support and answering those stupid n00b questions I ask (and am still asking). The Bicycle Network forums have also been a great help. Most users are friendly and are again willing to answer any questions I have, and they are there to vent to when others on the roads are not playing nice. They understand too and have been in the same situations you find yourself in.
I’ve also had to replace a helmet. I didn’t post this up here when it happened, I think because my pride took a huge blow, but I’m ready to admit it now. I was travelling quite fast, down a slight hill in Melbourne CBD, about 300m from work, when I decided I was going to signal left (even though I am not legally required to) and brake at the same time. Over the handlebars I go and head first onto the road (10 out of 10 for the somersault, negative score for the landing unless it is on funniest home videos). Luckily it was quiet and no cars were around. Five people stopped to assist and the nice taxi driver parked behind me in the left lane and put his indicators on until I had recovered enough to move to the footpath. Had a headache brewing, went to the doc and was diagnosed with mild concussion and likely whiplash (although my neck wasn’t hurting at the same). A nice dint in the helmet too. On the train to Mum’s I go as someone needed to look after me due to the concussion and late that afternoon the doctor’s diagnosis was proven correct – the neck starting hurting a lot. Physio the next day and 4 weeks later no more headaches from the whiplash. Only 2 days off work for the concussion. Lesson learned – never use just your front brake coming down a hill. Including the accident with the van I have posted about earlier, 2 accidents for a total n00b in their first year of commuting ain’t too bad. Considering both could have been preventable if I was not stupid or had ridden more defensively, cycling is not as dangerous as many think. My grade two teacher gave me the nickname WD (Walking Disaster) and my mum has renamed that to RD (Riding Disaster). I’m just one of those people who is prone to doing stupid things…
I’ve also gained an appreciation for a good bike mechanic. I’ve had horrible experiences with bike mechanics, and have still only found one that I am happy with. This has encouraged me to learn more about my bike and I will be attending the November session of Bicycle Training Australia’s basic maintenance course. Then hopefully on to the more advanced courses. I am forking out too much money on bike mechanics🙂
My commuter has treated me well the last year, however due to my increase in commute and frequency since I first started, it is sad that I am going to have to retire it as my commuter over the coming weeks. The last few months has seen too many problems with it (repeated back wheel punctures, weird creaking sounds just to name a few) and it was also sold to me a size too big. My MTB and road bike are a smaller frame size and I feel a lot more comfortable riding them. I’m going to replace the wheels on the road bike with 28c and change the pedals to reversible no cleats on one side/MTB cleats on the other. I’m still a bit shaky with the cleats, so will continue to ride without them for my commute until the confidence increases.
I’ve done it. I’ve become a regular commuter by bike to work. Didn’t think I could do it, but I did. If you’re a first time commuter this year, welcome to the party. Continue commuting on the bike and you will definitely gain a lot as the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. My husband and I only have one car and we are now only driving 600km a month. A huge saving considering we were driving over 25,000km a year while living in Lara. Buying in inner Melbourne, close to public transport has been a complete lifestyle change for us and we are enjoying it immensely. To top it off, the hubby is starting to ride to work too🙂
I’m sure in 20 years from now I’ll be looking fondly back on my first year of commuting wondering what all the fuss was about! Next step is to lobby all levels of government for better and safer cycling facilities to ensure more people are able to enjoy this new passion of mine🙂
If you’re new to commuting and have any questions, feel free to ask. I’m more than happy to answer, and if I don’t know the answer, I’m more than happy to use my growing network of cycling friends to ask for you.