It’s been raining the last 4 days off and on. I’ve been doing a test ride of a 2011 Bianchi Camaleonte Uno this weekend and wanted to get it out as much as possible. This morning, sitting dejectedly in the living room watching the continuing rain, I thought, “I can’t go out on the bike and ride! It’s raining! I’ll get wet! The bike’ll get wet! I’ll look silly! Dang!”
At some point, I started thinking, “Hey, dumbass! When you were a kid, did the rain stop you from wanting to go outside & play? What’s wrong with you? Are you gonna melt? Is the bike gonna break? Don’t you remember the fun of riding your bike through the biggest puddles? Good lord, what’s happened to you?!?”
That was about as much fun as I’ve had riding a bike in a long, long time.
I’m reminded that there’s nothing wrong with childlike thinking.
There’s nothing wrong with getting wet.
There’s nothing wrong with getting dirty.
There’s nothing wrong with doing things with abandon.
I don’t need to worry about what others think.
I don’t have to color inside the lines.
This may seem like a stretch for a guy who already pushes the envelope as much as possible, but even I get into a rut. An hour out on the bike in the rain, careening through puddles, feeling the water against my face, not worrying about my clothes, the bike, my hair, what others might be thinking… that was a refreshing reminder.
this is an email i sent earlier today to the teacher / mod of tonight’s #bikeschool tweetchat – this doesn’t give all the issues or details i’m dealing with, but it’s the thrust of the problem. posted here for background for the #bikeschool crew.
Long story to a short question:
I bought a great road bike (2004 Klein Aura V) back in November with several intentions, the main one being commuting the 7.5 miles from home to the high school I teach at here in Pensacola.
After 6 weeks of commuting (and loving it) I come to find out that I’m being targeted by a local gang that several students in my school belong to. A teacher at the school next to mine was severely beaten, bike destroyed, money, laptop, etc. stolen 2 years ago and left for dead in this neighborhood during his morning commute.
The problem: to go around this neighborhood makes it a 14 mile ride (one way) and takes me through an even worse neighborhood to the south. To the north is I-10. This neighborhood is bottlenecked through this gang’s territory and there’s no way around it.
I’ve searched high and low for sites with info on how to physically protect yourself while riding, but have found little to nothing on the situation I’m facing.
My wife, the school-based gang expert, the school-based sheriff’s deputies, and my vice-principal are all telling me not to ride to work. The teacher who was beaten two years ago says he’ll never ride to work again through that neighborhood. The guys at my local bike shop say a) carry a gun (no thanks) b) carry a knife (again, no) c) get pepper spray d) ride really fast and stop for nothing. (I should mention that being a high school teacher, it’s illegal for me to have a gun, knife, or pepper spray on my person on school property).
Dude – is there a solution to this problem that doesn’t involve not riding the bike to work?
Seriously, this has been breaking my heart.
i’ve been riding a bike since i was a little kid. fearless, reckless, i destroyed bikes & parts of my body in jr. high by not thinking about anything except having fun and taking risks while riding. as i gained as much weight as i did in my adult years, my riding declined to the stopping point until 2 years ago when i started to reclaim my health and lose that weight. i had bought a cheap Mongoose and now rode in the neighborhood up to 18 miles a day, but only for health.
i’m 42 now, 90lbs lighter, in a lot better shape than i’ve been in many years, and… i’m kinda scared.
i bought The Bike (2004 Klein Aura V) back in November ’10 with the intention of commuting to work, saving money, helping the environment, and continuing my journey to better health. when the commuting didn’t work out because of gang-related issues (another time / another post), i committed to using the bike as much as i could for errands, pleasure, short trips and riding to Pensacola Beach.
Pensacola Beach is less than 10 miles from my house as the crow flies. it’s a gorgeous drive getting there, and without a doubt, one of the most beautiful beaches in the country.
the problem? to get to the beach, you’ve gotta cross the Pensacola Bay Bridge, a narrow, 3 mile long bridge that crosses the Pensacola Bay, is subject to some strong crosswinds, and can be a little scary to drive over depending on the volume of traffic.
i spent months looking longingly at that bridge from the seat of my bike. i’d make it to the bridge, then turn towards town and ride around there. i made all sorts of excuses as to why i was scared to cross it on the bike. i mean, seriously! look at how people drive across that thing! and what about garbage in the road? if there’s lots of trash, i’m stuck! and crosswinds? c’mon! my lack of balance due to hearing impairment is legendary! one burst of wind from the bay and i’m either pushed into traffic or i’m over the side and in the drink. let’s not even talk about the fact that i can’t wear my hearing aids when i ride, so can’t monitor traffic well! all i needed to do was keep telling myself these things and i’d be sure to not risk anything by crossing that death trap.
but then the jr. higher in me has been calling. and The Bike? oh, man. i honestly had no idea how awesome riding a bike could be until i bought a Klein. such a sweet ride! i had to suck it up, get past the fears and excuses, and just ride the damn bridge!
i enlisted my friend Chris Baskind to ride with me, soothe my fears, steel my resolve, and not let me back out.
and 14 miles after leaving home, we arrived on Pensacola Beach in one piece. and it. was. awesome.
that old bridge doesn’t scare me any more. i’ve ridden across it 3 more times since my first ride a couple weeks ago. i took my Flip UltraHD video camera with me and shot the crossing, sped it up some, added some smooth background music, and put it up:
as i’ve become more confident with riding and with my ability to monitor what’s going on around me while riding, i’m branching out more and feeling good about using the bike for more than just getting healthier.
i’m NOT, however, riding like a jr. higher. pretty sure i’d be dead by now if i were!
Sometimes I just need to stop. Breathe. Relax. Focus.
This was shot out at Gulf Islands National Seashore / Ft. Pickens, FL on 10/9/10 using a Flip UltraHD camera. The music is something I frequently use while doing yoga – every time I use it, I feel relaxed and transported to the beach. To view in HD / full screen, click on the link to youtube.
So stop. Breathe. Relax. Focus.
My cousin, Christine, and I ran the 2010 South Bend Urban Adventure Race together – this is a goofy video of the results of that race.
Shot entirely on a cheap Sony Cyber-shot camera, this film was not planned in any way. Due to rain early on, I wasn’t even sure we’d be able to take pictures. That we ended up with this much decent footage was a major surprise. Enjoy! (or not!)
This video was edited using Adobe Premiere.