One of the aspects that excited me about joining the Back to Motion team was that I could ride my bicycle to work in the summer. In April, when the morning lows finally rose above 40 degrees, I gleefully pulled out my bicycle and made a trial round trip to check out my path and determine the time I would need to leave to get to work. I had used Google Maps to determine my route and get an estimate of the time I would need. I was pleased with the route and altered it slightly to decrease my time on streets with traffic.
Reality check #1: the time I needed to get to the office was a full 10 minutes more than the mapping program suggested. I had fallen into the classic pitfall of overestimating my fitness. This was only confirmed in the following weeks as I was often passed easily by seasoned commuters as I pedaled furiously with the occasional gasp for breath. My occasional cardio workout over the winter had not been enough to prepare me for a daily commute of 4 miles each way on my bicycle.
Reality check #2: I was not going to be able to ride 5 days a week. Each week I tried 3 days in a row I realized that my body did not have the reserves needed to maintain this level of activity. As the saying goes, I felt “rode hard and put away wet.” Unfortunately, being a physical therapist does not make me immune to the denial we all can have regarding our fitness and what we can accomplish. I modified my ambition and began riding only 3 days a week with only 2 days in a row to allow myself to recover. I have had to practice what I preach and not let my frustration get the best of me. Rather than leaving my bicycle in the garage I have given myself extra time to get to work, and made new, intermediate goals for riding this summer. I hope to increase my days riding per week to 4 and to get my time down.
My education in bicycle commuting also included bicycling etiquette. This includes announcing yourself as you pass others, when to pass and who can pass first. It seems that I and most others have learned this by experience and the use of path etiquette seems quite variable. I was happy to see our partner in celebrating “bike to work” for the month of June, The Bike Depot, includes formal education in riding safety and the rules of the road. As I post this, I am happy to report I have occasionally shaved 5 minutes off of my time and been able to ride 3 days in a row without feeling like I was dying. I am also transitioning to ride 4 days a week. I have to admit, my motives are not entirely pure. With gas prices at the summer high, I will save more money each day I can ride rather than drive. I hope as you read this you will be both comforted and inspired and join me in committing to ride to work at least a few days a week. In celebrating riding to work for the month of June, Back to Motion is offering assessments of riding posture and strength to ensure your new activity does not cause you any new pain. Feel free to call us at 303-832-5577 to get details and set up a consultation.
Lorienne Fisher, DPT