On (Not) Easing Into Things

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.

opus bikes ivanna
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.

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  1. Congrats on your persistence! It pays out tremendously, and in fairly short time.

    The one reason I like “live” cycling (as opposed to running on treadmill or stationary bike) is the ups and downs that you HAVE to make through. If I’m late for work, and that traffic light is about to go to red and that kid is blocking sidewalk and I have to jump off and… and… and… I get to push myself so much more. It is very easy to slow down treadmill when you are tired. It is not so easy to persuade delivery truck to let you pass, I just have to be fast enough.

    And yes, now legs are “recovering” but in no time those same legs will take you anywhere. One of the first things people teach in weight-lifting is: you have to “scar” a muscle a little, and feed it proteins and rest, and then it will grow. Just chalk it up to “growing pains” and you’ll be fine. Take google directions with grain of salt – even their car timelines are only for best scenario (no traffic of any kind).

    And lots of hot tea!

  2. Before we moved to Alberta we were living in Yarrow and I was working at the Yellow Barn farm stand. I used to ride 12 kms each way to work and then work a 10 shift on my feet. It was the best I ever felt and the most exhausted. I love riding my bike and it was a happy day in our house when all four of us ended up on two wheels. We are a family who bikes – a lot. Since my suregery though I haven’t ventured onto the bike. I am not too keen on putting pressure in that area just yet. But the girls are happy to have their bikes back – even if it does mean riding on slushy snow still.
    Heather’s last post … Girl TimeMy Profile

    • I really would love for us all to have bikes as well, so that we can ride as a family. Although my 4.5 year old isn’t quite ready yet, I can see the time isn’t far off.

  3. LOL! you were awesome and didn’t look at all stressed. Well done for meeting up under your own steam. I am in awe of you.
    pomomama’s last post … wordless wednesday: tangledMy Profile

  4. LOL!

    Give it some more time and you’ll be cycling everywhere! 🙂

  5. I love this post because I would totally do that, too (if I were brave enough bike in Brooklyn!). I’m impressed with you and your perseverance! Good advice though about easing in, I bet that could be said for many things in life. Btw that bike is gorgeous!
    Dana’s last post … Strawberry Banana Split BallsMy Profile

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