Not just my occasional yoga routine, or slow lane puttering in the pool. I did a workout. I did a workout DVD. I did a workout DVD with Bon Iver. It involved squats, weights, and cardio, and some heavy breathing. Things that I haven't done in a long while.
Some of you have met my my mean green cruising machine (which really needs a name - suggestions?) But tonight I got reacquainted with my first bike love:
Before the red bike, I had a super cheapo heavy bike that I got at Canadian tire when I was about 12 years old. I had my parents ship this bike to me on Greyhound a while after I moved off of Burnaby Mountain down into North Burnaby for the second time (sometime around 2002 I believe), thinking I could ride it around the 'hood a bit. I hadn't fully realized what a prairie bike it was - it weighed a ton and was only good on super flat roads.
At this time, I was spending a lot of time with friends who were into mountain biking, and eventually decided that the only answer was to upgrade to a newer, lighter, awesomer bike.
And thus, the old bike got a new home with the UBC Bike Kitchen, likely to become one of their community bikes, and I fell in love with a red Brodie just the right size for a petite gal like myself. I bought some padded bike shorts, and a new helmet, and after a little time psyching myself up on trails around the golf course, and some serious schooling from Scott, learned how to bike over small logs and across wooden ladders.
My crap cardio and endurance kept me from mastering some of the more challenging trails, but for a fairly non-athletic girl from the prairies, I was pretty happy with where I was at. I could happily bike down the lower part of the easier trail on the south side of Burnaby Mountain (the North Road trail), or do a little cross country (my favorites that I remember being in Ruckle Park on Saltspring Island, and another trail somewhere in...Nova Scotia?).
The red bike accompanied me on the two month trip across Canada. The red bike made me feel hardcore. The red bike helped me ride over obstacles I didn't think I would be able to tackle. And I'm no pro, but the whole mountain biking thing went over a lot better than I would have imagined.
After moving downtown just over two years ago, I got it into my head that a mountain bike was impractical for riding around the city. Last summer I went searching for a more city-friendly bike, and ended up buying the green bike (a Townie). The green bike is a cruiser. I wasn't sure what I was looking for when I bought the green bike, I just knew I wanted something more practical. I tried riding a friend's beautiful fixie, but it just didn't feel right. I tried some hybrids, but figured I may as well just keep riding the mountain bike if I was going to consider buying one of those. So after many afternoons spent test-riding, I settled on a cruiser with lotsa gears so I could attempt to handle the hilliness. I got a basket so I could carry groceries and such. The green bike felt more streamlined, and gave a smoother ride.
But the green bike is still heavy, and particularly with my lung crapout over the winter, my cardio is as bad as it's ever been. And my body only ever has so much endurance, thanks to the myriad of quirks it has, in particular not digesting well, and so not usually taking in an adequate amount of calories and nutrients on any given day which makes me generally fatigue really easily. I've not been able to get to a point where I can comfortably ride to work and back. And riding up the downtown hump is something I have yet to accomplish. Another thing about cruisers is that, as much as the upright position is a lot nicer on my back and wrists, and the seat is a lot more comfortable, being upright removes a lot of the power you get out of your legs. It makes the movement a lot more like climbing stairs rather than biking, and that has turned out to be harder on my knees and just a lot more tiring.
I've been considering electrifying my green bike, putting a battery on it, so that I can have some help getting up hills, and decrease how much energy I'm expending so that I can bike further. Laugh if you want. I wish I could just bike further under my own power, but this is my reality, and if there are tools that can help me achieve my goals, then why not use them?
And yet, I haven't done it.
I've been going back and forth, and for some reason...and it's not just because of the cost (though they're darned expensive!), it just doesn't feel quite right. Not yet at least. I want to be free, biking under my own body's power, not having a battery to cart around and charge. I'm not saying that I won't do it, but I just have to really settle it in my own mind before taking the leap.
So tonight, for a change, after only riding my green bike last summer, and a fall, winter, and spring of no more than brisk walking or a quick ride to the grocery store (2 blocks away) for fun, I couldn't resist. I'd been thinking about the red bike all weekend, after a couple of my workmates were looking at mountain bikes online last week, and my boss turned up with his new commuter bike (also a Brodie). Tonight, my lungs felt...well, not excellent, but not terrible. I unlocked the red bike, rolled it up the driveway, and pumped the tires. I raised the seat, as far up as I could.
And then I rode...
I actually made it to Nicola, which is almost halfway up the hump going east (right before the incline increases). I stopped for a drink of water, and to catch my breath and try and fend off the encroaching asthma. Then once I'd caught my breath, I coasted back down the hill. I forgot how great it feels to be flying down a hill, wind in my face, bugs trying to fly up my nose. It felt amazing. I didn't want to stop, so I did a couple more loops around the low end of the 'hood before heading home.
I wanted to keep riding all night, but had to be satisfied with that, as it was more than I'd done in many months. I never know how I'm going to feel from one day to the next, but the small pleasure of a twenty minute bike ride is something you'll never see go unappreciated here.
Funny thing is, even though I felt a bit like I was cheating on my schmancy cruiser, it was exhilarating riding that bike. I don't know what it is about it, but it makes me feel strong, and that is no small feat.
It won't be the last ride that bike sees this summer, Red is making a comeback.