January 22, 2014

Back in the Saddle?


By Crabby McSlacker

You may wonder: what sort of an asshat would post blog pictures of bikes and sunny beaches when most of the country is facing bone-chilling, freakishly miserable winter weather?

OK, yeah, so this sort of an asshat.

Hi There!

But it's sort of a photo-journey about facing fears and taking risks and all that sort of crap.

I'm hoping maybe you could put on a couple sweaters and make some hot chocolate or do whatever you brave people do who live where it's cold in the winter and bear with me?

Crabby's Exciting Winter Bicycle Adventure

So regular readers may recall that we live on two different coasts. Which is kind of a weird thing but whatever.

On the East Coast, I have bike and ride it quite happily. We live in Provincetown which is a touristy but small town with lovely bike trails. I am not, like favorite commenter Death Ride Grandma, particular adventurous.  I don't ride far or fast or in much traffic.


Though I do brave Commercial Street which is an amusing video game of clueless distracted pedestrians, idling cars, massive delivery trucks, and the occasional weaving honking drag queen on a scooter.


On the west coast, however, I've tried to ride a bike but have run into quite a few obstacles, one of which is my own fear.  There is traffic in San Diego and I gotta ride through it to get to the pretty places.  This is scary!

While I try to be mindful of bike safety, I kinda agree with this New York Times piece and have concluded: safety is a crapshoot when it come to biking even if you're careful.

In fact, the second winter of attempted biking, I managed to break my elbow in what should have been a minor fall. I was going all of 2 miles an hour, but landed funny and the break was serious enough that the doctors were advising surgery.  But then they changed their minds and fortunately it's mostly healed OK, but I've been assured I'll have arthritis in that elbow and it does indeed stiffen up enough to make that threat seem realistic.

But it makes me extra super cautious--I really don't want to go down on that same elbow again.

And I've had my bike stolen here, TWICE, out of our locked condo garage.  The first time insurance coughed up, but when miscreants got in yet again and ripped the entire bike rack out of the wall, taking my new bike with it, only a month or two after I'd replaced it, I though: screw it. I am just not meant to bike in San Diego.

Sigh. I could only dream.

But, a couple of years went by and I'd see people on bikes whizzing by and finally I couldn't help it:  I wanted to try again.

Because, when all goes well, biking is wonderful!!  You get to see lots of stuff and have adventures and yet it's technically exercise.  But it's so much more motivating pedaling up a real hill that you want to get to the top of, rather than a fake one some earnest spin instructor is trying to get you to imagine.

Even on a cloudy day, the view from a real hill is better.

Anyway, so this time, I bought a cheap used bike off Craigslist, but one that nonetheless was in great condition.  Yay for Craigslist! And I decided to keep it inside our small condo, where we trip over it all the time so that it won't get stolen at least until I take it outside.

But... having made the leap around Christmas time (Merry Christmas to me!), I futzed around for a while, hesitant.

After all, I am all about embracing my comfort zone, not trying to step out of it.  Would I ultimately be too skittish to ride the damn thing?

But then...

Happy New Years!

It was New Years day, and I was still procrastinating on the bike thing (wait, I need bike shorts! And a rack! And toe clips! I can't ride yet!) when the Lobster and I went on a pretty walk in La Jolla.






There have waves and seals and stuff there.





And I decided that it was time! And that La Jolla was a reasonable destination from our house. There are a few scary places along the way but mostly it is a combination of residential streets and bike paths. (True, a section of the bike path features a few homeless encampments, but that comes with being a warm weather winter destination, and the inhabitants don't seem to bother the bikers).

But we live on top of a hill, and I hate having a big hill be the final leg of a long journey. So some figuring was involved.

I plotted and schemed and spent a ridiculous amount of time on Google Maps.  I coordinated with the Lobster to meet for a rendezvous along a popular beach boardwalk (the first time) and then learned from her how to put the bike rack on the car because--big surprise!--I suck at all things mechanical.


This way I could start and end my ride at the bottom of our hill, and just do the smaller hills involved along the way.

Finally, Back in the Saddle!

So yeah, I've been on a couple rides, about 22-25 miles each, which is no big deal for Real Cyclists but I am not one so for me it felt pretty good!  Each time I came back with sore shoulders and nether regions, so I suspect some adaptations, either in form or equipment, might be in order, but I had a blast each time.

I also got lost numerous times, but that happens to me practically every time I leave the house. Thank God for smartphones and GPS.

Of course I packed snacks.


And yes, eventually I got around to peeling off the label, I did not actually eat it.

Oh, and remember how in the Weird Ways to Lose Weight post I mentioned my portion control shenanigans regarding the sinister quest bars? Yeah, I'm still doing it that weird shit. This is one bar:


So, along the way, in no particular order, I saw pretty things!






And people out enjoying themselves in all kinds of amusing ways!


And more pretty things!







Oh, and note: I was absurdly cautious the whole way and work a dorky reflective vest and oddly unflattering helmet. It is not accidental there is no Selfie of this.


But the net result: I made it to my destination and back on my bike each time without killing myself and enjoyed the hell out of it!


You may now resume your shivery blizzards, sorry!

Anyone else have a Love/Fear relationship with bicycles or anything else fitness-related?

49 comments:

  1. You are either very brave or a glutton for hate comments! Just kidding - good that someone is getting sunshine and warm days. We can live vicariously through you until we thaw out! No snow here but its about 23°. Enjoy a mile for me!

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    1. Bring on the haters, Anew, I totally deserve it! :)

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  2. I'm just happy that you showed us all of the pretty pictures of the beach!!! I'm going to pretend that it looks like that outside here today, too!
    I've never ridden a bike for exercise.

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    1. Kim, one day you are going to be living beachside year round, I just know it!

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  3. I'd love to bike there. No big ass hills for me, though.

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    1. Fortunately these were mostly little-ass hills Leah, til my legs get stronger or my brain gets less cranky, neither of which is likely to happen soon!

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  4. I'm just waiting to get a random day off while the rest of the US catches up from all their snow days. What? Not happening? Oh, well, then.

    You've hit on why my secret desire to one day ride a century race is still a secret one. I am scared to death of riding a bike in traffic here in San Diego. I know enough bike riders that do, so I know that with practice I'd probably get over it, but those same bike riders also know people from their cycling groups who have been injured and even KILLED in traffic accidents while on bikes.

    The cost barrier to entry for cycling is pretty high (Craigslist I suppose is the exception) and I also have no room in a 600 square foot home to store a bike, so for now my fear is academic. Anyway, all that ME ME ME is to say that I am proud of you!

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    1. So it's not just me who finds the San Diego traffic scary OtF?

      I've decided not to even ponder longer rides, at least not for the time being. But I do feel lucky to have found a way to get out a bit, in what I hope is the safest way possible! I bet you could TOTALLY do a century if you had the equipment and a safe place to ride... maybe someday!

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  5. As a hill-hating runner, I love that you plotted a way to avoid that big one! I like to ride my bike, but only in my little neighborhood. Too afraid of the dumbass drivers around here (college town + pickup trucks = no bueno).

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    1. Very smart of you to avoid the college town pickup trucks full of dumbasses Shelley! But glad you have a nice safe 'hood to pedal in.

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  6. I have a hate/hate relationship with my scale. Does that count?

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    1. It totally counts Starving Bitch! Especially if you sit on it for long periods of time and it hurts your butt.

      Wait, that made more sense when I said it in my head. Um, as if it were a bike and not a scale... oh never mind.

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  7. I'm in the big city and the ride in early in the morning is magic. The ride home is hellish, hot, dirty, smelly and dangerous. I have worked out that I can throw my bike on the front bike rack on a nearby bus and use that bus to go around the worst of the insane traffic. Coincidentally I miss the hill that way too!
    I keep my bike in the house but I did get locks that are supposed to reimburse me for the cost of the bike should it be stolen. I suspect I need the broken lock to prove my case. So as long as the thief leaves that for me I should be in good shape.

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    1. Now see that is SMART Cindy--enjoy the morning magic, and make sensible concession for the fucked up evening commute!

      I've always been intimidated by the thought of using those bus bike racks, figuring I'd screw it up and not be able to figure out how to get it on there and have an irate busload of folks vent their wrath when I finally got on board.

      But, hmm, would expand my options to bike one way up the coast and bus back, must investigate!

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    2. I sometimes get people telling me that I'm not going to get fit riding the bus instead of riding my bike.
      Since I am a Fat Chick I also get a lot of "You go girl!"
      I have that sweet lady look and I always smile or apologize (Canadian!) so I don't get too much trouble from people no matter what I do!

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    3. On comment #1: people are such assholes sometimes!

      But on the "you go girl..." this brings up a question: I've often thought "you go girl" when I see people who are heavier exercising. Just seems like more crap that fat people have to put up with and in my mind, that counts for bonus points. But I feel like it would be weird or patronizing to say it out loud, and I figure a smile is always appropriate and less likely to cause offense so I go with that.

      So if you're still around, how do you feel about the "you go girl" thing?

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    4. Cindy, I really admire that you do the bike on the bus thing! I'd probably miss out on that morning beauty because of the ride home dilemna...

      And Crabby... if you get back to here... I would be really unhappy to get a "you go girl" for exactly the reason you suggest. I would hear, "good for you, fat person, for getting off your fat ass and doing some exercise" I would even hear more... "...and so we'll forgive you for making us look at your fat self on a bike..."
      I could probably go on, but I won't.
      Now I have to wonder if I'm the unpleasant person...

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    5. Yep, I know many people do get offended and many others don't. Its a minefield!!
      You have to be obviously trying to offend me before I will get offended usually. Sometimes a person will get you right on one of your sore spots just by accident. That smarts!

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    6. Thank you both for coming back and filling me in on your experience, I really appreciate it! The whole "you go girl" thing seemed to me, while possibly well-intentioned, like it could be annoying to hear!

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  8. No snow, but temps that are well below freezing at night, and that's plenty. At least, during the day, it's tolerable because the sun is shining.

    Bike riding in our neighborhood is great, and we used to do that, before the bikes broke. Maybe i'll check out Craigslist -- if the Jalopy keeps breaking down, we may end up biking everywhere anyway!

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    1. I am so clueless about geography and weather messymimi, somehow I thought you'd have mild southern winters! Of course I also have no memory, so if you actually live in Canada and I've confused things, never mind!

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  9. We don't resent seeing your warm weather--we're just grateful to be reminded it exists.
    The bike thieves ripped the bike rack out of the wall?!?! I'm so glad I've never met them in a dark alley.
    I have a love/hate relationship with my stationary bike. I love being able to exercise indoors away from the cold, or more importantly, the pollen that led me to buy it in the first place. But I hate the boringness of it, even though I listen to podcasts until the timer goes off, so I don't really have to pay attention to it. I keep thinking I might get a real bike someday when I actually have time to use it.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    1. There are videos of bike rides on the Pacific coast etc. that are meant for people on a stationary bike. They also have ones that are scenic and you ride with a pack of people and pass other riders every so often. You never come in last place.

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    2. Ooh, I'd love to think of Mary Anne pedaling away in some scenic or even fantasy background, perhaps vanquishing villains as she passes by.

      And sorry Mary Anne that you have so little time to even contemplate a real bike!

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    3. crap, that was me, forgot to sign properly. :)

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    4. No, if I'm going to watch video while I'm on the bike I'll watch Netflix. Which I do, occasionally, but mostly I don't ride more than twenty minutes, so podcasts are better.

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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  10. Death Ride GrandmaJanuary 22, 2014 at 7:28 PM

    You can imagine how excited I am to hear about cycling! Traffic definitely takes some getting used to, and the risk never disappears. But then I figure there's risk driving, too.

    But 20 miles is a real ride. The first time I rode that distance I sort of expected the Guineas world record people to be calling.

    Outsmart the Fat, go for that century ride! I've done a lot by now, but I still often think how amazing it is to ride that far in a day. There are some wonderful ones - happy to share my experiences if you like!

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    1. Hee! My first barrier is the bike, and where I would keep it. At some point we plan on moving out of the tiny cracker box we have now (which doesn't have a garage, or even a carport) so I am hopeful I will eventually have a spot to put a bike. THEN I can work on overcoming traffic fears.

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  11. Aw DRG, I wouldn't be surprised if you cranked out a quick 20 miles during the 10 minute testride you took when contemplating buying your first bike at the bike store! But thanks for the encouragement!!

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    1. You want to know how I got on the road bike? Or, going back a couple more years, how I got on the road at all? My husband got me a hybrid and lured me out on suburban streets after I'd begun to get comfortable on the stationary bike, and I sorta got into it. Then I started hauling it on the train as part of my commute. Then I got tendinitis from the weight. Then I went to the bike shop and asked what to do about it & they put me on a different looking bike & suggested I take it out for a test ride.

      It was soooo scary. It moved if you raised your eyebrows. It swerved when you thought you might like to turn in a block or so. It wobbled wildly. It was a road bike. Well, I am easily intimidated by experts, so I went all the way around one block, headed back to the shop, and ordered the bike they told me I wanted.

      And that was it. When it arrived, I took it to a quiet road with huge shoulders and lots of cycling and gritted my teeth and got used to it. And then I loved it. And now I ride 6000 climby, trafficky miles a year.

      But that test ride? More like 20 yards, shaking with terror all the way.

      Watch out. You never know where a little change may lead.

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    2. Dang it DRG, do you have to be so inspirational? You make challenging fears sound like a GOOD thing! :)

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    3. Inspirational? I sure didn't see it that way. I thought I was just more scared to admit I was scared (and ignorant) than I was to wobble out on the bike. Pure luck that it had a happy ending.

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  12. I only ride a stationary bike. I am terrified to ride a bike outside. I remember my carefree youth, riding a bike here, there, and everywhere. Those days are long gone.

    I love all the gorgeous pics you shared...and the polar vortex says hello! I am really looking forward to spring as my other fear is slipping on the sidewalk. I did it on New Year's Eve and haven't come across a YouTube video of it, so I consider myself lucky indeed.

    Happily The Boss is getting up a bit earlier so he can chauffeur me around on these cold and icy days!

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    1. I bet I'd be scared of icy sidewalks too Kimberley... if I were hardy enough to spend winters where there is actual winter!

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  13. Sigh...the turquoise of your bike reminds me of the pretty surf board I had when I was 19. Bikes terrify me and the thought of riding one in traffic is positively paralyzing, even when I am not the one doing it. Lots of kudos for conquering your fears!

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    1. wait a sec dlamb.. you had a SURF BOARD and you are congratulating me for riding a bike? :) Don't surfboards get used in oceans where there are (shudder) waves?

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    2. Yeah, the ocean is way scarier than the road. I once lived on a boat, and we sure learned what it meant to surrender control. I am in awe of surfers.

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  14. Love the photos - how encouraging to see when the weather is grey here (though no snow in the UK). I haven't been cycling for the past 6 weeks or so due to rain and storms, and am starting to feel I really miss it ! 20+ miles is a lot when you haven't cycled for ages - well done.

    And as for the aching bits you mentioned - I solved this by wearing double bike padding, so you have padded bike shorts or leggings, plus also padded bike pants. Feels initially a bit strange but you should be able to go a lot further, with a lot less pain, as the double padding means you aren't putting pressure on any tender regions.

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    1. Interesting idea Fliss! And bonus... it will have me well prepared for the "depends" years, I won't even notice I'm wearing an adult diaper!

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  15. IM SO SO SO AFRAID OF BIKES AND TRAFFIC.
    give me trails and Im fine.
    but cars?! I panic.

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  16. I'm in San Diego too, and my bike seat was stolen. Just the seat! What is that about?!

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    1. Nice to meet you hungry hydrologist! Love your handle and its fun to see another San Diegite.

      That saddle theft thing sucks! Or when people take wheels etc. Because there is no freakin' way I'm stripping my bike down into itty bitty pieces and carrying half of it with me if I have to lock it up. Thus the cheap Craigslist investment. :)

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    2. Yeah- fortunately it's the same bike I've had since I was 10, so it's kind of like a cheap Craigslist investment. :) But that might be where I head next for a bike seat or new bike.

      And nice to meet you too! I've been enjoying your blog for the last few months and was excited to find out you were in San Diego too. (I took a guess after seeing the weather in the first pictures, hehe)

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  17. It is just too crowded around me to want to rid a bike. If I lived near or in the mountains or hills, I would do mountain biking.. :) BEAUTIFUL pics!!!

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  18. There are great (paved) bike trails up in our mountains, and a free shuttle. The nice bus drivers will get off and help to put the bike on the rack. Sounds like paradise, no? Still, I would rather bike to the ocean. You're a lucky lady!

    LynM

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    1. I am indeed a lucky lady Lyn! Though those bike trails and shuttle drivers do sound pretty awesome!

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  19. Oh Crabby, I so get this. My husband loves to ride through town or wherever, just to adventure, and it stresses me right out. He rides to work and has been clobbered twice by the mirrors of big pick-ups whose drivers were too stupid to pay attention AND run into a ditch by some daft woman using her phone while backing her Escalade out of a church parking lot. We also have a huge problem around here with people texting while driving, which doesn't help my anxiety about sharing the road with idiots. They make a habit of running red lights.

    My favorite place to ride is toward the edges of town and down the little state highway that runs around it. The road there has shoulders and less traffic, plus the scenery is pretty and there's much less reason to worry about dogs. Don't get me wrong; I love dogs! But sometimes enormous German Shepherds get out and chase you down the road while you peddle madly and shriek at your husband to save you. (For the record, hubs totally did. My hero.)

    The problem with riding the same area is he gets bored, so I need to suck it up and deal with the stress of riding somewhere new every once in a while. It's worth it to have such a cool thing to do together, and finding a new safe area is always nice. Good on you for conquering your hesitation and giving it a go! The pictures are gorgeous and good motivation to keep going. :-)

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    1. Sounds like you are being very brave in accompanying hubby! I'm like you, I'd probably prefer the nice quiet roads with big shoulders and little traffic.

      Have not yet been chased by a german shepard, that sounds disconcerting indeed!

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  20. It is almost bike weather here again. I am looking forward to it with a lot of dread. The 'boys' in the family said I needed a bike with gears. However, the new bike with gears has a different handle bar setup that scares the heebie-jeebies out of me!
    And your photos are making me SO FREAKIN' HOMESICK!!!! I can't stand it! You'd BETTER enjoy your bike rides out there…for MY sake! lol :)

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