So, this just happened. After reaching 16 months of consecutive bicycle riding couple of weeks ago, the blurb I put in my 500th bike ride in a row on Strava sums it up well:
I ain’t fast, suck at hills, don’t have a ton of followers, or a fancy bike, but I git ‘er done. Different parts hurt and I’m plum tuckered out most days. So mebbe a forced break’s a-comin’. Or mebbe not. I Just Keep Pedalin’.-moi
Thing is, I didn’t plan on this streak. I just one day realized that if I rode a little bit every day, it might be easier than a long ride every few days. And like my other streaks (yoga for 7+ years and walking, writing and virtually no flour each for 3+ years), at some point, a little voice started saying “Don’t Break The Chain.” It’s a little phrase attributed to Jerry Seinfeld writing jokes every day for a year, which he said wasn’t true. But it’s still a good handle for a challenge.
In a world where half a million Americans have now died of COVID-19, millions of Texans were without power for most of a week during the bitter cold snow and ice storm, and some still have no water or water damage. Plenty of other injustice continues: price gouging, racism, white supremacy, homophobia, sexism, unemployment, poverty, and climate change just to name a few. I know it really matters very little what one zaftig mid-aged bicycle dude in Austin did in his bike. Yet, life goes on. Content must be created, stories must be told, and horns must be tooted. So since you’re here, it’s like the Buddhist path: once started, may as well finish.
It’s that time of the month, again. The 11th, that is, which is when I began biking every single day back in October of 2019. For some reason, I cain’t quit you, bicycling. That streak will be tested Monday, when we might see the coldest temperatures in a decade and three to five inches of snow — in Austin, Texas. I may have to pull out the old metal home trainer stand and do my 14.3 miles* in the relative warmth of the inside. I say relative because this house leaks air like the White House press office, and the space heaters can’t keep up. Anyway, the miles add up, although at a slower pace than last year. That’s thanks to having a smaller goal, a niggling injury, and my old frequent friend, fatigue. Plus, the cold does slow one down. Don’t get me started on how my body seems unable to handle cold very well anymore, for whatever mysterious reason. Still, I bike, because, well, you know: a dude abikes.
For the last few weeks I’ve been biking to a job. This isn’t new, as I’ve been 15 years not a slave to cars. But recently I’ve not had work to go to, so a daily ride to a workplace, and then returning home during the still surreal situation we’re all in, is a bit odd. The global coronavirus pandemic is a huge tragedy that will be with us for a while until there’s a vaccine and maybe longer. One small consolation is that it has reduced traffic and pollution. This is good for bike riders, but there are still plenty of hazards so cyclists should remain vigilant. Here a few challenges I’ve noticed and tips for things you can do to make your ride to work as good and as safe as possible.
It’s been two days on my new temporary job and my body is already exhausted and my spirit crushed. After a fairly good amount of time off, now it’s the moment for making money. I owe, I owe, so off to work I go. The average Joe or Jo would probably give up or severely curtail her or his extracurricular activities. But I’ve never been called average, mediocre perhaps, so I keep on walking, yoga-ing, writing and the big time suck, biking. I’ve been watching my programs, too — and currently it’s the last six stages of last year’s Tour de France. That counts as bike-related education, right?
Not that beast. I mean beast mode. I’m not a believer in magical numbers (unless my lottery tickets finally pay off). It was my second longest month ever, after the 731 I did in April 2017 including 202 Miles in 2 Days for the MS 150. Given my lack of a day job at the moment, I made it my bidness (as some people actually pronounce “business” in Texas) to bike my butt off (it’s still there, though). And bidness is goooood! That’s because I averaged 150 miles per week. Well, I guess it’s volunteering if I’m not getting paid.
It’s surprising that I accomplished this since it takes me longer than it used to. I could blame Sophie, the 28-pound steel bike with nine gears I’m riding, or the prematurely colder, windy and wet weather, but I’m just not moving very fast these days. Some people I know rode Das Hugel, an unsanctioned sufferfest that’s over a century and 10,000 feet elevation (I wrote about it last year.) A Dude doth not Das Hugel. However, compared to everyone who’s home sitting on the couch, I’m friggin’ Speed Racer. So perhaps my efforts are inspirational to somebody out there reading this. You don’t have to believe me, let’s look at the Strava stats.
I began writing this blog last night. But I just finished working a job that was thoroughly exhausting physically, mentally taxing, and emotionally stressful. I worked 400 hours in 11 weeks, driving over 2,700 miles in the process, enduring the hottest September on record, and numerous other challenges I won’t even get into. So yeah, I’m pretty bushed, and being late on a blog post is ok. Hopefully you’re not too tired to keep reading.
After the last month and more of too much work and especially of driving a car, I finally managed a day off. Fortunately, on Sunday nights there’s a group bike ride called Bike Curious, about which I’ve previously written. The ride itself is usually pretty mellow, but in this case we had a substitute leader who picked some roads that were a little dicey, hilly and sandy. Still, overall the streets flat and familiar and the pace was slow. It was a good way to ease back into biking. Today I’m a little sore and tired, but the hardest part was actually just getting myself out the door. If you’ve ever been in this situation you will relate to this post.
The eleventh month of 2018 is in the bag, and I thought I’d do a little recap for loyal readers and newcomers alike. It wasn’t the best or worst month ever. It’s a bit better when compared to last November, the first month after I was laid off my job (that ironically I had for 11 years). There have been four elements challenging my progress: 1) the loss of Sookie the Fuji; 2) what feels like less sleep and more fatigue than usual; 3) cooler temperatures coupled with sometimes intense cold intolerance for some reason; and 4) going back to work part-time has shrunk the available hours to be out there doing activities. Even with these things slowing me down, I still put in a pretty respectable month on bike and foot. For the number nerds, the data dweebs, git ‘er done geeks and so on, click on through to learn more of what A Dude Abikes has been up to.
After riding my bicyle to three different locations over the last seven days in a row to work as a clerk for the county elections office during early voting, I have some observations. Chief among them is that having a job again is both gratifying and exhausting, kind of fun but kind of annoying. Another is that Austin is still a place that still has a whole lot of white people in it, especially due the high rents of downtown, which limits some people of color. But where there is diversity, it is quite varied. Third, for the most part Austinites are a very well-behaved, clever and mellow bunch.
Fourth, voting is one of few times where people of all political stripes come together to exercise their right to participate in democracy, and that’s a beautiful thing whether you agree with voting or not. And a fifth is that while voting is something that some people deride, some ignore, and others celebrate, it’s still a fascinating experience to be part of the process. There are more things you might learn as I did if you just click on that little Continue Reading button. It’s like voting! Please vote to read the rest of this blog! Vote for A Dude Abikes! Continue reading
“I have one of two choices – stay in the post office and go crazy … or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve.
-Chatles Bukowski, from Jay Dougherty, Introduction to Charles Bukowski
The other day I wrote about my take on the perennial struggle that many writers and other creators of art face: how to pay the bills while making their stuff. Well, today, that arm wrestling came into stark relief as I reported for duty at my new, albeit temporary, job. As a result, I’m getting to this blog quite late, later than usual even. Aside from throwing a wrench into my schedule, and reducing my bicycling time, I still did my walking and yoga. But the job had some positive things about it, too. Maybe you’ll relate.