April 23, 2008

Out of The Basement and Into the Streets

[By Crabby]

[Note: This post was edited to remove all the introductory chat about the Lipton bike contest, which is now, unfortunately, over. But we still want you to get back on your bike!]

Are You Suffering from BIBD?

Please raise your hands: are there any of you out there who think riding a bicycle is an excellent idea, a healthy, practical, good-for-the-environment activity, but it's just too much of a pain to do in real life?

If so, you may be suffering from "BIBD," a medical condition we just made up. The good news? It's sometimes entirely curable! Read on to find out more.

How do I know about BIBD? Because I suffered from it too, starting sometime in 1983 until just last week. It's too early to tell if I'm cured, but I'm finally "on the road" to recovery!

So what is BIBD? It's short for Bicycle-in- the-Basement Disorder. (It also goes by the names "Bicycle in the Garage," "Bicycle in Storage at your Parent's House," or "I really Should Buy a Bike Someday" disorder.)

Warning Signs of BIBD:

1. You never or hardly ever ride a bicycle anymore;
2. You have access to a bike or the ability to get your hands on one without too much hardship;
3. You used to enjoy bike riding when you were younger;
4. You are still physically able to ride;
5. There are places near where you live suitable for bike riding and you feel slightly guilty when you see other people enjoying them.

Important Distinction: It's not a disorder if you have a Damn Good Reason for not ever riding a bike. Some of these include:

1. Your knees or back or other body parts won't let you.
2. You live somewhere where biking is unsafe.
3. You can't afford a bike.
4. Even in good weather, on a nice safe smooth level bike trail, you never really enjoyed being on a bike.
5. You have no place to put a bike.
6. Other reasons I'm forgetting which you'll let me know about in the Comments section.

Recovery From BIBD

Actually, there is no one cure for BIBD; rather, there are an arsenal of BIBD therapies and approaches.

1. Borrow or rent a bike somewhere fun.

Yeah, it's annoying to think about paying outrageous rental fees if you already have a bike, but never ride it. But if your bike needs fixing, or you never seem to make time for it in your regular life, then consider riding around somewhere scenic on vacation. Is it fun? This is important information.

2. If your bike is no longer ridable, go get it fixed or replace it.

Forget the fact you used to do all your own bike maintenance. Are you doing it now? No, you are not. So take the damn bike to the shop. Or if it's totally trashed, get another one. (You can get a bright shiny new one, or buy a used bike from someone who took better care of theirs than you did of yours). Promise yourself, if you need to, that when you start riding again for real, you'll find your tools and learn how to do all that stuff yourself again. But don't let the fact your bike is in a state of disrepair keep you from ever riding again.

3. Start with really short rides. Otherwise, your ass will hurt.

Yeah, your legs too, but you're sort of prepared for that. It's the ass thing that will take you by surprise. The weird thing is, it won't necessarily hurt the first time or the second but may wait until the third or fourth time out. (At least that's what happened to me). Keep your rides short and get used to it again gradually.

(And does anyone understand, physiologically, how exactly your butt manages to "get used to it" again? Are there callouses in there somewhere? Or do your butt nerve endings die off so you don't feel soreness anymore? That's always been a mystery to me).

4. Go on scenic routes to pretty places, if these are available.

It's worth a little extra planning to keep your rides really pleasant the first few times out. You may have to buy a rack for your car if your immediate neighborhood sucks. Just don't make your only destination commuting to work, especially if you hate your job, until you teach yourself that it's the job, not the bike, that sucks.

5. Once you remember that biking is a mostly-fun activity, start saving time, gas, and parking money by combining exercise with commuting or errands.

Depending on where you live, biking may have some practical advantages in addition to the exercise you're getting. Do you live somewhere where parking is nearly non-existent? Your bike could allow you to be one of those smug people who doesn't even care!

6. Buy some fun accessories.

If you haven't been biking for a long time, you're missing out on a chance to Get Cool Stuff. The nice thing about biking is that aside from the bike, there isn't all that much you need-- but there are great little gadgets and packs and clothing and such if you want them. And then the only way to enjoy your new purchase is to get out on your bike again and try it out!

Note: don't skip the helmet. Yes, it may squish your hair and make you look a bit geeky. But in the same way that forgetting your umbrella attracts rain clouds, not wearing a helmet is a magnet for crazy drivers and funky road conditions and concussions.

7. Move somewhere where biking is easy and fun.

This may seem an extreme step, but...

Too many people put fitness last when they are figuring out where they want to live. If you are thinking about moving anyway, and are lucky enough to have some options, consider a town or neighborhood that has bike lanes and bike paths and cool biking destinations. I often wonder why people are so willing to trade off having walking, running, and biking opportunities in order to live in large energy-hogging houses in isolated suburban areas where they have to drive everywhere.

Brief Case study:

Yeah, it's me again. I moved, and it got my bike out of the basement!

So obviously, having been in recovery from BIBD for only a week or two, I am so NOT an expert on all the plusses and minuses of riding around a lot. Do any of you ride? Do any of you wish you did but don't?


  1. aha! I can actually contribute to this one.

    Yesterday, my new neighbour and I went for a nice, brisk 45 minute walk and after we were done, she asked me if I enjoyed bike riding. I do, but I haven't for a long time.

    So, when she gets back from a two-week vacation, I'll be pulling my bike out of the shed and starting that up again. Hopefully I won't kill myself in the process...

  2. You tempt me. I have the knee problem, but I keep thinking: if sometimes I can go up and downstairs without pain, could I sometimes pedal a bike without pain? Come to think of it, I stopped enjoying riding a bike when I was twelve or thirteen, which coincidentally would be about when the hypothyroidism that didn't get diagnosed until I was fourteen was developing.
    The approaching move, where I'll be ten miles from town, instead of about a mile–which I never walk because it's a steep winding heavily trafficked road with no shoulder, but in an emergency I _could_ walk to town–makes some form of non-motorized transport seem desirable. And I'm allergic to horses.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  3. love fun accessories.

    love flimsy excuses.

    I have a few o'the former and base my life on the latter.

  4. Thank you for reminding me that I need to get my big, clunky bike out of my basement.

    oh, and any excuse to post a pic of you is a good one. Have I mentioned you're a fox before?

  5. The Bag Lady suffers from BROBT (Bike run over by tractor). She is pretty sure it cannot be fixed. She is hoping she wins the bike giveaway, but is pretty sure she won't (the last time she won anything was approx. 1972, and it was a huge Easter basket full of chocolate that she really didn't need...)

  6. I love riding my bicycles! My favorite is an old cruiser style, black, with the name "Desperado" on the frame. I've replaced the tires, but the rest is stock! It's a three speed, but I leave it in high gear. My favorite ride was when I decided to go 20 miles straight line from my house to a nearby town. Through woods, fields, over fences. Ha Ha!! That was a good day! After all, before they ever invented the airplane, the Wright brothers were in the bicycle business!

    Dr. J

  7. I love bike riding and am itching to get back at it.
    Two summers ago I rode several times a week for anywhere from 6-12miles at a time.
    Soon my pants were hanging on me instead of snugging my legs.
    Back problems kept me off the bike most of last summer but I refuse to be held back this year.
    I suspect it'll be a few rides before my butt toughens enough to make it comfortable, but I don't care. I have a nice comfortable bike seat and I use on of those gel things on it.
    Hey, if your butt ain't happy, ain't nothing happy.

  8. I suffer from "my bike was stolen almost a year ago and I still haven't bought a new one" disorder.

    It's probably about time I get this little condition remedied.

  9. I suffer from BPD (Biking Preparation Disorder)

    I have 2 bikes - road and mountain (and a funny old english thing with a bell), both are tuned up, tires full, and I have lots of places to ride... but I don't do it. For me, the issue is the amount of prep work involved: decide which bike, choose a route, find outfit, pick shoes, get supplies ready for bike bag (id., money, phone, chapstick, key, snack), pre-hydrate, contemplate poisons lurking in bike water bottle, fill it anyway, eat something, apply sunscreen, try to fix hair so it isn't blowing all over the place under my helmet, and on and on.

    When I figure out how to just hop on the bike and go it will be a happy day.

  10. I suffer from "bike chained up in my parking spot and gathering mold syndrome" as well as "my good friend and I made a pact to ride our bikes a few times a week last year and made it out on the bike path once syndrome"

    It doesn't help that the bike path I'm near fills up with oblivious children and overexcited dogs.

  11. Alas, unless I want to ride around and around on a 1.5 mile loop, there is no safe place to ride within an hour's drive of where I live.

    This wasn't a problem when hitting the weekly organized rides was something my husband and I did together. It was our little fun thing to do as a couple. But now that I have to do it alone, I simply can't justify hitting the door at 5:30 am on a Sunday and not returning until after noon.

    I can accomplish the same level of activity by putting the bike on the trainer in my studio and not having to drive anywhere, pay anything, or schlep around any gear. This leaves me time to cook up a batch of healthy meals for the week. I miss riding in the great outdoors, though.

  12. I suffer from "I just know I'm going to wipe out on the pavement and make an ass of myself" disorder, as well as "The idea of riding in the street on a (comparatively) flimsy little bicycle with a bunch of cars kinda freaks me out" syndrome. O.O

  13. I agree with Marijke, Leth Reader and Bunnygirl -- if you have a riding partner, it is much easier.
    The hardest part of bike riding, for me, is getting a)out the door and b) on the bike.
    On, and the first moment that I push off seems a bit strenuous too. After that, it gets much easier ;)

  14. Well, my bike is in the garage, but in desperate need of a fix. It is finally at the top of the honey do list. :)

  15. I ride my bike to work all summer and fall - I can't wait for the snow to melt so I can get at it.
    It's a great way to fit exercise in to your day. I'm lucky in that I have city paths all the way to work, so there's very little street driving to do.
    I love it. The more you yo uthe more kitted you get out, making it more convenient. I'm planning on some panier bags this year. I saved up for a new bike last year and I love it - it's a great way to get out and about.

  16. I suffer from BSOB disorder: Bike Sits on Balcony. Also, the tires are flat and have been for years. I would love to bike the 7 miles to work, but sometimes don't leave until after dark and don't really live in a safe biking town (read: one of my professors got hit by a car biking 2 years ago).

    But, I'm going to the beach this summer, so maybe I'll get my flat tires fixed, and make the husband rent a bike when we get out there. Thanks for the idea!

  17. Hi. Please join the Bicycle to Work! LinkedIn networking group. Members pledge that they will try to ride their bicycle to work or on an errand at least once a week. Although the benefits should be obvious, let me outline them here.

    Right now people in the industrialized world are facing two very grave problems: obesity and a growing scarcity of oil. Compounding this problem is the new food shortage brought about, in part, by the conversion of food cropland to bio-fuel crop production. Most people feel powerless to help, but there is one thing that we can do. Ride our bicycles to work.

    If everyone would agree to ride their bikes to work one day per week we could cut oil consumption by as much as 10-15%. No one would argue that riding a bike burns more calories than driving the car. Although popular politically right now, most bio-fuels consume more energy than they produce. We would be much better to eat those bio-crops then use our own energy to transport us around.

    So spread the word. Make it a movement! Bicycle to work one day a week and do your part to cut back obesity and the overuse of oil and precious cropland.

    Just go to my profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreylstevenson and you can click on the group to be included. While you are there, don't forget to ask to link to my network of more than 7,000.000 like-minded professionals. I accept all invitations and look forward to meeting you.


  18. Hey Crabby! Lookin' good on the bike.

    I wish that enjoyed biking, but I tend to be a bit nervous of it. I grew up in the country and I had a bike, but I never really got very good at riding it. There wasn't really anywhere to ride, since my Mom was very nervous of the whole idea and wouldn't let us take our bikes out on the road.

    The only place that I've ever really enjoyed biking is the National Park where we camped every summer. Traffic on the roads is slower, and there are lots of trails, so it feels safe.

    The only way I'd really be comfortable riding around in the city (even my tiny little city) is on the sidewalks, and I think that is frowned upon.

    Yeah, I'm a wimp.

  19. Great post! I'm more of a walker than a rider, but I do enjoy biking. The scenic route is definitely very important to getting myself on a bike! And having an actual destination is usually very necessary.

    I'm TERRIBLE when it comes to fixing things... if I've got a flat tire or something it'll take me forever to getting around to fixing it. I just need to stop being so lazy when it comes to that:)

  20. Waaa.
    I would totally use a bike if it weren't for the fact that I don't OWN one.

    (hint hint HINT wink wink)

  21. Ha! BIBD is hilarious and is an affliction that affects many of us. Thanks for the excellent tips!

  22. Yup, my girlfriend was afflicted with this until we finally got her a bike she loves: a yellow Electra Amsterdam. It's not my first choice, but now she bikes to work as opposed to coming with me begrudgingly.

  23. I want to act smug about parking and gas prices!

  24. I picked up a used bike last year and rode it quite often. I am pretty sure that I would be happier with a bike with more gears though. It only has 6 speeds and kind of drives me crazy. Plus, it is old and weighs a ton, which given my size is probably a good thing! as soon as we lose our snow though, it is coming out of storage.

  25. i so wish i rode a bike! i have no idea how much they cost, but i'm pretty sure i couldn't afford one. and, i haven't ridden one in years. do you really never forget how to ride a bike? anyway, maybe if i win this contest i entered....

  26. Having a bike that fits your body goes a long way for curing BIBD. I hated riding bikes for years. A couple years ago I bought a good bike and had the person at the bike shop help me pick out one that works for me. Now I love biking.

    I don't have a car and it gets me around town quickly. I am always surprised how fast I can get places on my bike (and when I arrive I'm usually not that sweaty). I live about 7 miles from work and it is faster for me to bike there than take the bus.

  27. Ahhh, biking...wind in the hair (through the helmet), legs pumping, singing to myself, I roll on. Nearly every day, and it almost always puts a smile on my face. Even today, when I got rained on.

  28. Alas, I don't own a bike. 'Sigh' Can I sit on the sidelines and cry along with Katieo?

  29. My husband is an avid rider (even commutes by bike when the weather cooperates), but I was one of those kids who didn't have a safe place to ride as a kid, so I'm not so confident on a bike. BUT, winning that bike might be JUST the motivation I need to give it a try so we can make biking a family experience with my kids, too. Hmmmm . . . can't wait to see who gets that snazzy yellow bike!

  30. I have disadvanages #s 1, 2, and 5, but I ride anyway. I went car-less in SoCal of all places after 35 years of having one. I sold my old F150 a couple years ago and still have 4 wheels, two on my fully suspended 27 speed pearl yellow and navy Specialized Stumpjumper FSRxc (her name is Hornet), and two on my 500cc motorcycle (her name is "Zen"). And two spares on my old hardtail MTB (Plum), which I use to trot my pup (Bogart). I rode the moto today with my biking buddy hubby, and we will also take the bikes out later. It is more than exercise or fun, it is a way we stay sane here!

    We live in an extremely population dense city with a few bike paths that aren't all that safe, as we are squeezed between moving cars on the left and parked cars on the right, that can "door" us or pull out suddenly. We are urban stealth bikers, we use the sidewalks whenever we don't feel safe on the street, for example if we have to choose between it and the bus lane, with buses accelerating behind us. One has to be really cautious but also bold to some degree in an urban environmet. However, we do NOT impede or disrespect pedestrians like some bike riders, who I want to swat with something hard and spikey as they hurtle by in complete disregard for my rights as a pedestrain when I am one. We always stop or give people on foot plenty of room, and also often apologize, because we *are* breaking the law. Better than being dead or maimed, and the walkers here seem to mostly understand that.

    We take our bicycles on most of our day trips and vacations. There is something so satisfying about riding, it is a freedom and a feeling of being one with the bike that is fabulous. We call riding "blowing out the cobwebs" from our heads. We wear helmets and gloves, shove a couple mini twix bars in a shirt pocket, water bottles in the cages, slip into our bright yellow jackets and we're off.

    The sore butt thing: I never get it on a properly fitted seat. Counter intuitively though, bigger and softer isn't necessarily better. The seat has to be an ergonomic fit, and it took me about 4 seats from stock on the Specialized to get one I can ride for hours. Often you can try a seat for a couple of days, if it doesn't work out you can exchange it for a different one if you are a good customer of your local bike shop.

    I'd encourage everyone to ride, even if you have to start out again in a parking lot somewhere because it's been awhile. I have a bad back, hip, knee and ankle, and neck, and I still ride singletrack up in the mountains. I will ride until it's no longer possible, and then dream about it!

    And I'm not entering even though I like the bike brands because I already have a yellow bike and a purple one, I am bike wealthy, and I would love to see a worthy crabber get a nice bike! :D

  31. There is also the strain of B.A.C.R. Bicycle as Clothes Rack.

    With gas prices getting closer to the $5 mark here, the bike is looking far more appealing. I can save on gas and stay in the skinny jeans. That's got to be the greatest 2fer around...lol

  32. I hadn't ridden a bicycle since I got my driver's license about 15 years ago. Then, I registered for my first ever triathlon last year. I figured I had better relearn, so I spent the summer doing it. I LOVE it now, however, I am still pretty reluctant to ride in traffic when there is no bike lane. You just never know what kind of idiots are behind the wheels of those cars. Love the pic! It is so nice to have a face to put with one of my fave blogs! You look so unCrabby! :) I knew it!


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