Bike Log #1

A few months ago, when the union responsible for Ottawa’s local bus service decided they could inflict maximal harm on the city by going on strike in the dead of winter, I turned my frustration into a vow that I would explore other green options for getting myself to work. After giving it some thought, I decided to start commuting by bicycle once the weather was nicer.

That day arrived two weeks ago. Even though it was cold and snow still covered the ground, I dragged out my bike, pumped up the tires, and set off. I figured I wouldn’t be that cold with all the heat my body would generate and that I should be at work within 30 minutes.

Wrong on both counts. It took me an hour, which included a stop because I thought my heart would give out otherwise. Distance is not the only consideration, I realized (duh), terrain and wind are important factors too. As for the cold, my core temperature was fine but my hands and fingers didn’t know that and they froze until I put on the gloves I’d brought along just in case (I’m not as dumb as I look).

More surprises: I’m in shape, but my legs were killing me by the time I got to work, and of course I had bike-butt, which is the scientific term for the soreness you feel in your gluteus maximus when you’ve spent an hour on a bike seat.

Undaunted, I biked to work again one day last week, pacing myself better this time. I was less sore when I got to work but it still took me an hour. I also noticed (more than I did the first time) that cyclists are still not very respected on the roads in this city. Cars drove past me so closely that I could’ve licked their windows if I wanted to; and more than once, a city bus driver cut right in front of me to make their next stop.

Does it get easier? How long before I start seeing improvements in the time it takes me to bike to work? How much of a difference does weather really make? What excuses do I come up with for not taking my bike to work? These and other questions will be answered in this bike log. My plan is to start slowly, commuting by bike once a week for a while, then twice a week, and building up from there. (I’m lucky in that my work building has a bike cage and shower facilities, which eliminates some concerns I might otherwise have).

Are you biking to work? Do car and bus drivers treat cyclists with more respect where you come from? Is your workplace as accommodating of cyclists as mine is?

Feel free to leave comments below to let me know about your experience, and any tips and tricks you’ve discovered.

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