Thursday, I was thinking, “I need more exercise. Also more time outdoors. I miss last summer, in Britain, when I only got in a car three times all summer long.” And then I realized: I can do that here, too. So, I resolved: for the next month, I will bike every where. Almost everywhere. Here’s my carefully-modified resolution: I will bike every day-time trip of less than 3-miles one-way, except for heavy-loaded trips like the grocery store.
Friday, day 1: Sophie doesn’t want to leave earlier than usual for daycare. She is suspicious of her bike-trailer-seat. It’s windy back there, apparently, and hard to chat with me while I ride up front, and slower than usual as we travel the 1.7 miles to daycare. I leave the kid-trailer in the day-care yard, then ride unencumbered for the 2.8 miles to yoga. This is all more efficient than I expected: I arrive 20 minutes early to yoga. In the middle of a complex backbend-with-forearms-down, I notice myself thinking, “Better save some energy for the uphill bike-ride home.”
My around-town bike, right now, is a Paschley. She is absolutely beautiful, sturdy & retro-elegant. She is also not a great hill-climber.
But Santa-Fe Drive is my new friend. That’s the least-steep route from the ocean uphill to my house. It’s also got the calmest traffic.
Biking around here should be easy: it’s sunny, the streets are wide, bike-lanes are plentiful, and most of the drivers are decent. But, actually, it’s hilly, the streets are so wide that cars average a frightening 45 miles an hour, and distances are long. On Friday, I was happy that most of the day was spend grading final-exams, at home. Friday evening, we went to a party at a friend’s house 1 mile away: but it’s the steepest mile home, so I was glad that it was after dark, so my resolution permitted me to take the car.
Although Friday was bike-to-work day, I was the only bicyclist I saw on the road, other than the spandex-clad racers on their multi-thousand-dollar bikes, all on the single main through-road of this town. I was the only one on back-roads, riding to get where I needed to go.
Saturday: I’m a little sore from yesterday’s riding, pathetically. I drive 70 miles to work, to attend my students’ graduation. While I’m gone, Ben takes Sophie rock-climbing, then beach-combing, then swimming at the Y. The only one of those trips that is less than 3 miles is the beach, but Ben doesn’t have my resolution, so it is a no-biking today.
Sunday: Soph and I bike the half-mile to our nearest park. With Soph in the trailer, I have to walk the steepest half-block right outside our door, and all these supportive Californian neighbors just smile sweetly at us. We run into Sophie’s friend at the park, and the two of them ask to ride in the trailer together, giggling, while I pedal around the park’s perimeter.
Monday: Soph & I are late to meet friends at the beach-park that is 3 hilly miles away. Lazily, I decide that the “below-3” resolution means I can drive Sophie here. This is my first resolution failure.
Tuesday: I make up for it by bicycling to the supermarket. First, I bike Soph the 1.7 miles to daycare. She asks if we can please ride in a car, but at least this time in the bike, she doesn’t cry. I keep the trailer on my bike and circle round to the supermarket. Milk, flour, canned pineapple, sugar: why do today’s groceries seem so heavy? But, once on the bike, they actually don’t feel much heavier than Sophie was. I bike the 2.1 miles home from the grocery store, panting on the uphills, but enjoying the scenic route, noticing houses I have never seen before. Strangers wave, pleasantly.
Five days into it, and I think I can keep this up all summer. We’ll see. Next Monday, I promise, I will bike to that 3-mile-away beach-park, as long as it doesn’t rain.