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.

One Green Thing: Loaner Bicycle

One Green Thing Strocel.comIt’s the first Thursday of the month, so today I’m tackling my One Green Thing for April. This month it’s all about getting out on two wheels. But first, I’ll talk about my seed-starting exploits last month.

I’m happy to say that my seed-starting went well. So far I’ve planted spinach, kale, potatoes, and my first batch of carrots outside. I have some little spinach seedlings happily growing. I also put out compost, and started licorice mint, bergamot, yarrow, butterfly bush, pumpkins, watermelon, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, tomatillo, parsley, basil, onions, peppers, tomatoes and cantaloupe inside. My seedlings are doing well. I’m ready to pot on the pumpkins and tomatoes – in fact, I should do that today. I also managed to get some pruning done this month, and I’m feeling very proud of my gardening efforts on the whole.


For April, I’m heading in a totally different direction. I was contacted by a PR company, and got the chance to request a loaner bicycle. If all goes to plan, I should receive it in mid-April. I’m really excited about the opportunity. I’ve long wanted a bicycle of my own, since I haven’t had one since I left home at 18. However, I’m constantly going back-and-forth, unsure if I would actually use the bike enough to justify the cost. I’m viewing the loaner as a great trial run, to let me see just how cycling could fit into my greener lifestyle.

I think this would be a good time for me to buy a bike, actually. My daughter Hannah is getting to be a pretty good little cyclist, and for her birthday my mother, my grandmother and I pitched in to buy her a 12-speed. She’s fast on it, and I could see taking her for shorter-distance rides. Also, I’m now staring down the barrel of my son starting kindergarten in five months. Once I’m not carting him around as much, cycling for short errands will be more manageable for me. I’m hoping that the loaner bike will just confirm my belief that it’s time to get out on two wheels.

I’ll report back next month and let you know if the loaner bike worked out, and how it went for me. Right now, though, I need to go shopping for a helmet and maybe some snazzy cycling shorts. While I do that, I’d love to hear your own cycling tips and experiences. Also, if you’d like to get in on the act and take on One Green Thing of your own, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to grab the button from this post if you’re blogging about it, and spread the enviro-love.

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