To Infinity and Beyond! (Or, 20 Miles By Bike)

Last weekend Jordan and I picked up our new bikes (here and here). When we were in the market for our house, our biggest motivator was to find a place closer to our respective offices so that our daily commute would be more bearable. And one of my personal motivators was to find a place close enough to bike or walk to work. Of course, being the procrastinator that I am (the fact that we bought a fixer-upper that takes all our available time may also be a factor), I didn’t pursue the bike thing much after we moved, until I started reading Mr. Money Mustache, who is a huge proponent of replacing short automobile trips with bike rides. (It’s worth noting that Mr. Money Mustache is rather fond of profanity, but he has some fantastic things to say about unconventional yet highly effective financial practices. So if you can get past his language choice or it otherwise doesn’t bother you, he’s definitely worth reading.) Duly castigated about our own “clown-like” driving habits (and frustrated by the fact that the local bus, which I ride daily, is often unpredictable and can make me late to work), we decided to take the plunge and buy ourselves some new bikes.

Yes, I’m sorry to say that Jordan did not own a bike, and I had let my 15-year old mountain bike fall into such a state of disrepair that it was not rideable without some serious TLC. Apart from taking short trips across campus in Tulsa on the university’s free loaner bikes, neither of us had done much riding in a while. In the interest of not killing ourselves the first week, we decided to take some practice rides before we started regularly commuting. So last Saturday we took a short ride around the neighborhood to get used to things and then set off for Jordan’s place of employment, 6 miles away from our house. All told we probably rode about 15 miles that day.

After a crazy week where Jordan was away from his office all week for a class and couldn’t have biked if he’d wanted to, we decided that today we would try my office. It’s a bit farther than Jordan’s–roughly 9 miles. AccuWeather predicted thunderstorms periodically throughout the day, but we figured we’d see how things looked in the morning and decide then if we wanted to risk it. So, this morning, we got up bright and early (after I missed the alarm going off and then asked for just 30 minutes more when Jordan woke me up half an hour later, so in the end it was about 8 o’clock), had breakfast, and since we hadn’t seen any rain yet, Jordan went to check the tire pressure while I changed into my biking gear.

Only the bicycle pump had a leak. So instead of pumping *up* the tires, he pumped them *down*. And instead of biking to the town where my office is, we drove there, to the bike shop, to get a replacement for our brand-new Bontrager pump (which the bike shop attendant said he’d never seen leak before). On the bright side, we also got handlebar mirrors, so those pesky drivers can’t sneak up on us, and odometers so we can see how awesome (ha!) our biking skills are.

Then, by the time we got home, it was lunchtime, so of course we had to eat. And then we had to install our cool new bike swag, so by the time we actually got around to riding, it was about 3:30 in the afternoon. But it still hadn’t rained, so we rode those 9 miles and back again, with only a couple small detours when road signs confused us. Our odometers read about 20 miles when we got back (we must not have the settings quite right since we each had slightly different readings), and the most the weather did was sprinkle for a few minutes. I figured out that I can ride to work in about 45 minutes, which is roughly what it takes to get there by bus. So I’m not losing any time, and I’m gaining free exercise and a daily savings of $3.20 bus fare in the process.

The interesting thing about my ride is that it’s mostly downhill on the way there since it’s south from our house, toward DC, whose highest point is only 409 feet above sea level (according to Wikipedia). So that means my ride in will be comparatively leisurely, while the real workout will occur going uphill most of the way back. But that will actually be an advantage since it means I can get to work quickly without too much sweaty work and do the hard work coming home.

There’s just one kind of scary stretch of road with lots of merging traffic and basically no shoulder, but when we got home we looked at Google maps together and figured out an alternate route that may help me avoid that without adding any distance to my ride. Here’s hoping it proves better than today’s route!

And wouldn’t you know it, about 40 minutes after we got home, the pouring-down, all-out thunderstorm came. How nice of it to wait for us.

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