Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Diary of a maiden voyage

My boss would kill me for saying this, but in addition to the overall health benefits of cycling to work, a two-hour voyage provides numerous opportunities for multi-tasking. Before you join in her rant about safety and focus, please consider the following:

Biking provides a close-up perspective of Edmonton's streets. Now, when I hear people complain about the pot holes, uneven roads, or speed bumps, I'll speak up instead of blinking in naivety.

Navigating the city's streets-and-avenues grid system on two wheels helps to hone my long-forgotten geography skills. It pays to know east and west, north and south. A compass might also be beneficial, but why take away ALL of the challenge?

There's no study that I'm aware of, but cyclists must be better mathematicians. Eighty second avenue, minus 28th avenue, equals 54 blocks remaining...and at about 56 revolutions per block, that's just over 3,000 leg pumps until I stop - or fall over.

Cyclists are also great driver's ed instructors. Yes, crazy lady in the jeep, I know your vehicle goes four wheeling, but inner city curb hopping isn't cool. And Mr. Smart, I know you're just "yittle" but I have no desire to be your speed bump.

I can also practice my gratitude wave for those gracious enough not to run me off the road (you know who you are) - and mutter threats to the jerks in Tonka Trucks who think they own the road. Yes, I do see by the proclamation on your bumper that your balls ARE bigger, but they won't help you suffer the wrath of my handsome husband if you knock me off my bike. Just saying.

Biking, particularly long distances, allows you the opportunity to listen to those songs you skip when the "forward" button is not buried under a layer of moisture-wick clothing. Who knew I liked BrokenCYDE?

And, cycling provides a compelling reason for me to don that Nike sports wear and assess whether I really can "Just do it."

I'm also strength training. Not only in the traditional sense, but also by demonstrating my pack rat nature. In the bag strapped to my back, I learned I can carry: a hair straightener, styling products, make-up, a change of clothes and shoes, my lunch, a generous water bottle, a paperback, my moleskin notebook, pens and pencils, my wallet, a hat, house keys, my bike lock and four elastics.

Street biking is excellent prep for Spin class. Except when you have the psycho instructor whose idea of a good time is "waterfalls" - a long trek to the peak of a steep hill, and then out-of-control speed on the downhill. Twice.

Outdoor cycling is also wonderful for facing your fears. Attempting to cross a bridge with no bike lane, in rush hour, is only marginally more frightening than staring down the steep decline at 103 street and questioning if your squeaking brakes need oil or are simply ready to give out.

And of course, time spent on the bike is wonderful for mental paperwork - like plotting a scene, creating a to-do list, or coming up with blog posts.

Next outing, I plan to catch up on my reading (downloading an audio book onto my iPod right now), practice my photo skills (I did not take the featured pic, but COULD have if I'd had my camera) and, if I'm feeling ambitious, I'll attempt to chew gum at the same time.

The Book In My Bag Today: Stolen, Kelley Armstrong


  1. You're a brave woman Dawn. I'd never tackle Edmonton streets on a bicycle. :)

  2. You are my hero. I am deathly afraid of biking downtown ... I nearly peed myself at the idea of flailing down 103 st!!

  3. Thank Donna. If I hadn't gotten a bit lost, I might not have had to go downtown. I didn't know which frightened me more, downtown or Groat Road!

    No, Meaghan, YOU are MY hero. xo (But I can relate to almost peeing myself. That is one steep hill!)

  4. I'm torn, LOL. On the one hand, yay for the adventuring spirit and physical fitness. On the other, biking ON the roads with an iPod? No, no, no, no, no. Please don't.

    Who's going to finish A and H if you're not around to do it?

  5. I could not suffer through two hours of listening to my laboured breath - the iPod is a must. However, only one headphone works and that ear is the one pointed toward traffic :-)