Reverb 13 | December 5 | Challenge

Challenge: Did you take on a new challenge in 2013?  What was it?  Are there challenges you deliberately avoided?  What do you want to do to challenge yourself in 2014?

I will be the very first to admit that I live a pretty charmed life that is pretty sparse on challenges of a real variety. I start a lot of my kvetching sessions with, “Aaron! Aaron! Um, this is kind of a first world problem, but [insert non-problem here that is really more of an annoyance].”

In 2013, I challenged myself to be a better steward of my environment and a little better to my body by riding my bike more often. Our home in South Minneapolis is uniquely situated that we are between 2 and 8 miles of most of the places we regularly go in the city, including the lakes, several breweries and our favorite restaurants, and downtown. And I am only 11 miles from work and most of the trip can be done on bike trails or really nice on-road bike lanes. I wanted to stop looking at my bike as only recreation and start looking at it as reliable and easy transportation.

Things That Are Hard About Biking as Transportation

1.Sometimes, it takes more time. My morning bus commute is usually 45 minutes and the bike commute is 50-60 minutes. So, it’s not that much more time and there are some pretty awesome benefits that either off-set the time cost or make it worth is (as will be described in Things That Are Awesome About Biking As Transportation).

2. You tend to show up to happy hours, dinners, stores, friends’ homes, and other destinations/events with the slight glow of sweat. Except in July and August, when you show up drenched and with a certain eau de stank.

3. Equipment breaks. It happens to everyone at some point. And it’s a total bummer.

chain
Oh bugger.

4. Drivers. Drivers are no different than cyclists in that, most of the time most of the drivers are respectful and follow all the laws that pertain to any car/bicycle interaction on the road. A non-problem. But every once in a while, there are drivers that make you want to think that every single person in a car is a maniac who is only on the road to kill every cyclist they see in bloody and dramatic fashion. This is not true. Just like not every cyclist you see is a free-wheelin’ idiot with no respect for traffic law. For example, I happen to just love traffic laws. But there are lots of near misses and people who don’t respect right of way or use the bike lane as a turn lane. It can definitely be scary at times.

bike lane
Hint: This is not the international symbol for “turn here,” “pass here,” or “park here.” It is the symbol for “bike here.”

Things That Are Awesome About Biking as Transportation

1. You are not spending your summertime commute in a metal box. Summer is so short in these parts that last year we almost completely forgot to go to the beach– a travesty to be told another day. It’s really fun to see my own city by bike, it’s awesome to be outside for all that extra time, and I don’t have to miss morning coffee because my bike has a coffee cup holder water bottle holder coffee cup holder.

coffee bike
Go Juice.

2. Exercise. But it doesn’t feel like exercise. A lot of us get used to exercising for exercising sake. We are moving our bodies only for the purpose of moving our bodies. Which is not a bad thing, but it feels like exercising. Just ask anyone who has spent more than 17 seconds on an elliptical– no matter how great your music or what TV show you can catch up on, you are only there to exercise and it feels kinda lame. But with biking, you are going somewhere! You have a destination and you. are. getting. there! It doesn’t feel like exercise, it feels like transportation.

3. Parking. Want free parking right up front? Bring your bike! There is no circling the block 8 times (unless you want to) and no waiting in endless parking ramp lines to exit. It has actually resulted in some trips being much faster in areas that are notorious for limited parking. Also, you don’t have to parallel park a bicycle.

4. Ya look good doin’ it.Well, maybe you look a little nerdy, but ya feel good doin’ it.

new bike

5. Good for the planet and your pocketbook. I bought gas, on average, less than once per month April through September. Awesome.

6. It’s super fun to do with a buddy! See?!

aaron kate bike
Get your panties unbunched– this is staged. We always wear helmets.

My goal for the summer was 1000 miles. Which would be about 800 more miles than I rode the year before. My grand total mileage was 1450, including 346 miles in June and 424 miles in July. Once I started biking on a regular basis, it was weird not to bike. And it really was a lot of fun. And super easy.

I am sure next year I will set a similar biking challenge, and I kind of, sort of have my little eyes set on 2000 miles, but I spent a lot less time running this summer and more than anything I want to bring that balance back next year.

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