… but it turned out it was an awesomely, fantastic idea!
Yesterday (6/28/17) was Bike to Work Day here in the Boulder/Denver (maybe all of Colorado?) area and it was awesome. A few weeks back I happened upon a good deal on an old steel frame Schwin road bike and I’ve been exploring this whole new world of road biking.
I’ve had a mountain bike that I bought off a friend for awhile now. It works but it’s not great and at this point I need to replace so much on it that I just started saving up for a new bike. But bikes are EXPENSIVE so I wasn’t having a ton of luck. Then I happened upon a refurbished bike sale in Boulder and found a blue Traveller III Schwin bike that met all the criteria I had for my first road bike.
Since then I’ve started bike commuting the 2.5 miles from door to bus stop and gone out for a couple longer rides but nothing like yesterday. My longest ride was one I did up a big hill on the 36 Bikeway which is a multi-use/bike path that runs along US 36 the main highway that connects Boulder to Denver, but that was about 12.5 miles just out and back. That day was awesome because I overcame fear by doing a big climb and discovered that I can do this, I can bike. I built a small amount of the confidence that day that I needed to make the full commute.
Okay so fast forward to Bike to Work Day (BTWD). I had gotten everything aligned the night before to make the 26.5-27 mile bike ride but was still nervous. Could I stay in the saddle for that long? Would I get tired? Was the non-36 bikeway part of my bike ride on the roads going to be scary and cause me anxiety? Was this really necessary???? I was determined though, this was a white whale. I did a lot of research online to try to find the best route from the 36 Bikeway to my office (the bikeway only gets me to Westminster, leaving me about 10 miles) and came across some commuter resources that were super helpful – I spent a some time on Tuesday plotting the route in Strava so I didn’t get lost.
So my alarm went off bright and early and I was up by 5:15 – quick breakfast and a quick dog walk and I was on my bike just after 5:40. Well here we go!
I was a little nervous but like any crazy thing like this, doing it in the morning means you are still a little sleepy and not quite comprehending the task at hand (one of the benefits of the super early runDisney wake ups). I road the route I had ridden before when I did my first big climb. Was I getting passed by people? Yes. Did I care? No, not particularly. In time I will get stronger and faster, I’m just not their yet (plus many had an additional gear they could switch down to, or that’s what I’m telling myself).
Anyways after that first big climb (which I had already practiced) I was ready for the new parts. I enjoyed the downhills, enjoyed how many people were out, and really enjoyed watching the sunrise over the open land of Colorado. And because it was BTWD, there was lots of support out. There were BTWD stations set up, one even had full on chaffing dishes, next to the bike path, by the highway. It was so surreal. This also helped my confidence since I knew I wouldn’t be too far from water or a snack if I had miscalculated anything.
I also always had the option to hop on the bus that I normally take, if things went really wrong. So after cruising, pedaling hard and just enjoying the ride, I got to my biggest decision. Do I hop on the bus and not ride the part that means biking the streets or do I ride all the way into the office? This was the section of the ride that gave me the most anxiety.
I had come this far and was still feeling good so I kept riding. No time like the present to test this out!
There were a couple of cars that got a little too close for comfort but for the most part, it wasn’t that bad. I road down Lowell, turned on 29th and then onto 15th and just as I was entering Downtown, the clock tower chimed 8. That was a great moment. The clock tower signaled my arrival, my achievement and the morning that I had captured along my ride.
All the fear and anxiety of getting outside my comfort zone and going further than I had ever gone on a bike before was gone and pure bliss (biker’s high?) were all that remained. I didn’t get lost, while the ride was hard I definitely wasn’t “spent” and now that I’ve achieved this I feel like a whole new world has opened up to me.
Biking has been amazing because it has opened up a whole new world of firsts to me. Like running at the beginning, I am able to test new muscles, go further than I’ve ever gone before and achieve things every week that make me feel like I’m progressing. Nothing can beat that feeling. I love testing my limits and doing things that others might think are crazy but really those 2 hours and 20 minutes on my bike was time well spent. I discovered a lot about myself, got to see the bike community in action, and took my self-reliance to a new level.