Monday, May 25, 2009

Conscious Bike Commuting

No, I don't mean as opposed to bike commuting while unconscious or inebriated. Lately, I've found myself in the Element thinking "Darn it, I could have ridden my bike". When we got our bikes it was primarily to ride them to and from work or as a back up when we sold the Beetle last June. Neither of us realized at first how much we actually enjoy our commutes and the positive effect they would have on our mood and energy level, particularly in a year made stressful with the threat of layoffs. Well, bike commuting isn't just about getting to and from work. Who woulda thunk? We could also pedal the two miles it takes to get to the Flagstaff Athletic Center or the cinema. Come to think of it, we did both this weekend.

Recently, in someone's blog (I apologize, the name escapes me), the writer remarked on the irony of seeing people put their bikes on car bike racks and hauling them someplace to then take down and ride or to attach to a bike trainer at a gym. Thinking about it a bit, I found myself agreeing that I prefer just getting on my bike and riding. I don't have to go to the gym and ride a stationary bike. I can get on my bike, ride to the gym, swim, lift some weights, and then go to the movies. All that activity makes it totally acceptable to share a bag of buttered popcorn with my husband, too.

Since we expected rain, I decided to wear my Teva water shoes. I ordered them from Teva 2 years ago with a certificate Teva handed out at a race at the Flagstaff Nordic Center. Though two years old, they still look great, as I don't use them for what they are decided for - trekking across creeks and rivers. But they are cute, comfortable and perfect for summers in Flagstaff where at any moment one can find oneself in the middle of a monsoon and ankle deep in water. I like them because they go well with my favorite Columbia graphic tee. I can assure you, reader, both pass for high fashion in Flagstaff.
Fashion decisions resolved, we set out on the FUTS to Woodlands Boulevard, a pretty good incline that we tackled from the sidewalk due to heavy holiday traffic and the lack of a bike lane. By myself, I might have stepped off the Expedition and walked up the steepest part of Woodlands but I would not allow Bob to out-do me. Remembering we live at 7000 feet I forgave myself for being out of breath by the time we reached the FAC. I had made it, my ego in tact. And now the pool!

While I have been recovering from a back injury and unable to run, Bob has been training for his races by himself and recently decided to do his first triathlon. He swims 2 - 3 times a week and assured me running and bike commuting in no way prepare one for swimming. Despite deep fear of humiliation on many levels, I decided I'd work swimming and (a bathing suit) into my exercise routine (at least until I can run again). On this, my second day of swimming in 4 years, I can attest that the Running Bob was not exaggerating. Hats off to Michael Phelps and Dara Torres! Really, they must be mutants. The whole holding your breath thing while propelling yourself across water . . . I'm not a wimp but I felt like one. I only swam for 15 minutes but the water kicked my butt. No worries, Bob reminded me. Swimming is tough and it was time to get ready for the movie portion of our trip.

Harkins Theater sits not 1/4 mile from FAC on our return route home. No bike lane but the traffic was lighter so we took our lane and were shortly locking out bikes to a sidewalk rail, as the bike rack was full. A good sign.

We ended up seeing Angels and Demons. I will only say that it reinforced my fantasies about living in Europe and reminded me that Bob and I have some Italian CDs we have yet to use. Disappointingly, Tom Hanks didn't ride a single bike in the movie (although the camera briefly panned by a row of them) and spent most of the time rushing around in the back of a black Mercedes with a beautiful Italian scientist. I'm not sure if we were supposed to vicariously experience sexual tension between the two but there didn't appear to be any, although sexual tension might have been inappropriate anyway given the fact the the movie is set at the Vatican. If Tom Hanks and the Italian scientist had been on a pair of Dutch bikes though, who know what could have happended between the two.


Doohickie said...


If only my wife would ride. She has good reasons for not riding, but I wish she would/could. We miss out on a lot of fun we could be having together on bikes.

sara said...

We just went out for the second time for date night by bike. We'll be doing it again & again-- no doubt! It was fun, parking was easy as we didn't need to worry about quarters and parking meters, it felt great to ride after a yummy meal, etc. The more we ride, the more we realize how easy it is to do many things by bike.

Hats off to you for getting in the pool. I really want to take swimming up again at some point in my life.

MamaVee said...

ya for pool time! One tip my swim teacher taught me was to go slowly. Seriously- slow it down. Try to kick not so much. The more you kick the more "cardio" it gets and the more you feel the need to breathe. But the slower you kick the more you can try to get in a groove and slow it all down, slowing downt he breathe and slowing down the panic ass kicking part of swimming. After swimming slowly ( and a lot of stroke work which I can't help from here) swimming feels easier and less of a ass kicking and more meditation.

I think it is a perfect compliment to biking personally. If you can find a coach or class I highly recommend it. It makes it so much easier and more fun.

Now I need to get my man on his bike a lot more often. last time he biked with me was in October. I have a bike date planned soon.