I work for Arlington Transportation Partners. We promote sustainable modes of transportation to reduce congestion and pollution in the DC metro area. With that being said, I try to walk the talk or in this case bike the talk.
So, I started biking to work approximately 1 year ago. I actually bought a $120 - 1980's Fuji road bike in the dead of winter to prep for my new adventure - I mean, who does that? But I digress...bike - check, helmet - check, lock – check, spandex - Whoah let's not get too crazy this early in the game!
I used www.ridethecity.com, to plan out my daily commute and these were the results:
1. Direct - Back roads to Wisconsin, across the Key Bridge, end in Rosslyn - 4.5 miles
2. Safer - Greater amount of residential back roads, short distance on Wisconsin Ave, across the Key Bridge, end in Rosslyn - miles?
3. Safest – Back roads to Rock Creek Trail, Rock Creek to C&O Canal Towpath, across the Key Bridge, end in Rosslyn - 6 miles.
Now, I am a self proclaimed big girl, a lady never reveals her real weight but just go with me on this fact. So in true big girl fashion, I chose the less safe but SHORTER distance - Wisconsin Ave here I come!
I tried out my commute one day after work in the middle of rush hour, on a very cold day in the end of February. I figured eh, if I can do it now, I can do it anytime!
It was an experience, let me tell you, not the best idea I've ever had but I got through it. I was excited to try it out on a normal workday once it was warm and when I could actually feel my fingers.
I pushed the spring envelope and started sporadically bike commuting in mid-march. I was full throttle, trying to bike at least 3 days a week by the time we were heavily promoting bike to work day in early May. Even during this excruciatingly hot DC summer, I pushed myself to bike at least 3 days a week and found on the days I couldn't bike, I really missed it. It was official; I drank the BikeArlington Kool-Aid and started to consider myself a real biker!* I guess it's time to bring on the spandex...
*Disclaimer: Why I consider myself a "real biker"
1. In the same day - I got caught in a rain storm wearing a white shirt - enough said. Then later that day, flipped over my handlebars due to my gears slipping. Lessons learned: pay attention to the weather reports to prepare accordingly and get your bike tuned up on a regular basis. It takes a good 3 weeks for an elbow scab to heel.
2. I finally made it up what I like to refer to as the "Calvert Hill" on Wisconsin Ave. After months of having to walk some portion of it due to the incline I finally made it all the way to the top! I get to the top, mouth agape, huge smile on my face and boom...I get bugged! Bug went in my mouth and almost down my throat, I'm sure the passing cars thought I needed a Doctor as I frantically tried to shake my head and spit it out. Lessons learned: push yourself to achieve your goals, stick with it no matter the obstacles and you will overcome them! Keep your mouth closed when riding, no matter how excited you are, or you might just get an extra bit of protein outside of your daily power bar.
3. Of course since I've been biking, I want to look the part and be safe so I bought the right shorts, a pair of riding glasses that have interchangeable lenses (they also happen to match my helmet), bought new tires that are better suited for the road conditions, and installed new grips for comfort and safety. Oh yeah I had fun that day at the bike shop!
So, back to my story; since starting to really bike in May/June I also joined a boxing gym in late July/ early August and with the combination of the two, I have lost almost 40 pounds!
So my adventures of a big girl on a bike might actually turn into whoah what was that skinny flash of light that just passed me?!
Moral of this story: ladies get out there and bike! It's fun, great exercise, and surprisingly easy to commute to work! This is my story of how I started to bike commute, I hope it made you laugh and more importantly, I hope it encourages you to get out there and try it.
Check back to this blog, you never know what future adventures may come up...
Cheryl O'Connor works for Arlington Transportation Partners, she is the Program Manager for the Residential, Visitor, and Site Plan Development Services. If you have any questions about the above information, please contact her at (703) 247-9295 or shoot her an email at Cheryl.firstname.lastname@example.org.