April 23, 2008
Out of The Basement and Into the Streets
[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:
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?