Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Decision to Bike Commute

I decided to bike commute after I turned my car over to my parents.  They needed a reliable car that wouldn't stop on them in the middle of nowhere within the rural Navajo reservation... more than I needed a car here in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

Not having a car for the first time in my adult life was weird.  I was weaned from driving and the entire culture and industry surrounding the American automobile: red lights, traffic, oil changes, gas, road rage, speed, etc.  On a quiet Sunday afternoon I dusted off my old Kona Hahanna mountain bike and took it to the bike shop for a tune up.  The first thing that struck me was the fact that biking was so less expensive than keeping a car.  But the cost of pain, as I would eventually learn, was priceless. 

For the first two weeks riding my bike was tricky.  Relearning how to time my shifting up hills, or down them for that matter.  It was trial and error and slow going.  Eventually, I read that street slicks were more economical in the power exertion/effort/speed equation.  So I bought some Michelin City Tires.  These City Bombers, as I call them, easily added another 10 to 12 pounds on my bike. But man do these tires go, and they are quiet too.  I noticed the pedals were too small; this after I snapped the tendons in my left ankle attempting to hop up onto a sidewalk only to have my foot slip sideways.  So I bought Wellgo platform pedals.  These wide pedals worked out nice.  In time, I also upgraded the bottom bracket, which after several years of on and off riding, and many, many years in storage, eventually wore out and started sounding like grinding teeth every time I pushed on the pedal. 

Snapping my ankle did hurt as much as it sounds.  Just a quick "snapping" sound and then you find you can't walk.  I biked to urgent care and the doctor said, "You have separation of the tendons." I hobbled out of that joint with an "air cast" (I asked Nurse Ratchet if I would get an air guitar as well.  She didn't laugh), and with industrial strength crutches to boot. Let the healing process begin.  

After two weeks I was back on the bike.  Which is to say that the whole bike commuting thing has grown on me. Big time.  Now, I've been bike commuting for, ah, let see... nearly eight weeks. And I love it.  There's nothing like an early morning ride to clear your head.  There's nothing like a grueling afternoon ride back up Paseo Del Norte to put all your other problems into simpler perspective.  

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