Earlier this month, I explained that my One Green Thing for April is trying out a loaner bicycle, to see how cycling can fit into my life. I’m happy to say that, as promised, the loaner bike arrived on Monday. It’s the Ivanna from Opus Bikes, and it’s truly a thing of beauty. I am thoroughly and utterly smitten with it. I want to keep it forever, just so that I can go out to my garage and look at it. Unfortunately that’s not an option, but I can dream.
My (temporary) ride
Given how much I love the bicycle, I decided to just leap right in. I had a coffee date with a friend, and I consulted Google Maps to get cycling directions. Google said it was about 3.6km from my house to the cafe, and it would take me about 15 minutes. So, about 15 minutes before I was due, I mounted my trusty steed and started pedaling.
Almost right away, I could feel it in my legs. However, as I hit my first uphill stretch I managed to make it to the top without having to get off and walk. I may have been huffing and puffing, but I was proud of myself. I was doing well. I was using a carbon-neutral form of transportation, and getting some exercise at the same time. I rocked.
Things started to look up on my first downhill stretch. Zooming downhill with the wind in your face is a great feeling. It reminds me of freedom and childhood. Cycling is fun.
When I hit the bicycle / pedestrian overpass that marked the approximate halfway point in my journey, doubts started to set in. It felt like I had been at it for a while already. Surely, it just felt like a long time, because I wasn’t used to it and I was working hard. Time was just dragging because I was huffing and puffing, right? I couldn’t know for sure, though, because my phone was safely stored while I cycled. Plus, it was too late to turn back now.
As I neared the end, I was really feeling it. There was a very gentle uphill stretch over the last block. So gentle, in fact, that I never would have noticed it if I had been in a car. But now that I had been cycling for, I assumed, almost 15 minutes, it was very evident. I almost didn’t think I’d make it, but my goal was in sight so I pushed myself forward.
After safely securing my bicycle to the adorable picket fence at the front of the cafe, I finally checked the time. It had taken me some 27 minutes to cycle less than four kilometers. It turns out that I’m faster on a bicycle than on foot … but not much. But the worst part is that my legs almost gave way as I walked up the stairs to meet my friend, and I realized I was only halfway there. I would have to ride back home again. Clearly, I was overly cocky about my abilities, given that I haven’t actually owned a bike in nearly 20 years. They may say that something is just like riding a bike, but they don’t mention the muscle fatigue and pain.
As I write this post, some 12 hours after my bicycle trip, my legs are still nowhere near recovered, and I know I’ll be feeling it tomorrow. So, consider this a public service announcement: if you’re taking your first bicycle ride in two decades, start small. Ease into it. Let those muscles you haven’t used in living memory get used to the exercise slowly. Because cycling may be fun, and you may rock, but crying when you walk downstairs is just not a good time.