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Thread: My first year on a bike

  1. #1
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    Default My first year on a bike

    My first full year of bike ownership & riding wraps up tomorrow; my e-bike was delivered back on March 2, 2018.
    Given the forecast and my chores, I don't imagine getting any ride time Friday... so some summary figures, thoughts & observations I thought I'd share:

    4,598 --- total miles for the 365 days (7,400km)
    1,355 --- car miles eliminated by biking to work
    600.2 --- highest monthly total miles (July)
    378.1 --- monthly average miles for 12 mos
    211 ----- days with rides, out of 365
    128 ----- office commutes by bike
    92.4 ---- weekly average miles, of weeks with biking
    61 ------ pounds of weight lost
    51.4 ---- greatest single-day mileage
    22.1 ---- daily average miles, of days with rides


    These figures are personal achievements which make me smile, make me happy! I've rarely been so successful with big goals I try to set for myself, as I was with this one! I'd not ridden a bike in easily 25 years (and very infrequently back then; every ride was usually unpleasant by the end; I never rode enough to get acclimated nor build stamina for it.) My last 10+ years were a far-too-sedentary couch-potato / desk-job / dining-out lifestyle without any regular forms of exercise. A year ago I was 49 and 303 pounds; I’d never have imagined then that I’d take up a bike... nor predict I could ever ride this much... nor ever dream I’d ride during winter months! So I'm thrilled all of that came to pass and more; and I'm stunned that tonight February came in 7th-best, mileage-wise (407mi) beating out my Aug, Nov, May, Jan and Mar (ranked 8 – 12, respectively).

    I love my e-bike! I can work as hard as I wish to on it, or get to point B sweat-free. (It has 5 levels of assist from min to max, as well as "off"; being a 52 pound bike, any biking done in "off" adds more workout potential.) Outside of winter, I turn my commute home into long, out-of-the-way routes, pedaling harder, taking assist less, getting home drenched in sweat. (I didn't really know, until I got the Apple Watch with heart monitor, just how much heart-rate-raising aerobic impact I was receiving!) But having the assist waiting in the wings is great for hills if I'm feeling worn out, or minimizing the impact of strong headwinds, or biking in/alongside traffic, or taking off more quickly from stoplights and stop signs, or wanting to take it easy on the last couple miles home after a long day-out ride... The bike has no throttle option; it is a pedal-assist only. So you're always pedaling if you want any level of assist to engage; stop pedaling to coast, and the assist cuts off. I'm not a speed junkie (while going fast, to a point, can be fun -- my stress goes up with the speed... I don't like going past about 25mph and my short spells that can reach those speeds pretty much are limited to downhills.) My typical excursions probably come out, overall, in the 13-16mph-average. (eg: today's office commute came in at 13.4mph avg., with max speed spikes in the low 20's on some small hills.)

    Having that assist was instrumental for me in the beginning, to enable me to "get entrenched" in a new habit of biking -- it simply removed the pain and misery I vividly recalled from my sporadic, infrequent rides of my early adult years. Being as out of shape as I was, attempting to get into biking for exercise would have failed quickly and miserably, for me, on a conventional bike. I know too well, just how easily I could have persuaded myself to give up on it! My first 2 months were heavily dependent on assist levels 3, 2 and 4, in that order of reliance. By removing the miserable bits in those early days, it left only the fun; further cementing my desire to get back on the bike the very next day. Now a year later, I seldom leave level 1 (minimum assist), and I occasionally spend time in level 0/off. I haven't found valid uses on any of my usual routes for levels 4 and 5 -- they're only fun (and they can be great fun!) if I know I've got wide-open, empty, traffic-free road ahead of me.

    With some sensible eating changes put into place shortly after the bike arrived, plus the exercise from the biking, I’ve taken nearly 80 garments to GoodWill as I’ve shrunk out of them. I’m wearing L-sized shirts now from the depths of my closet, vs. the XXL shirts I was wearing last year. I’m aiming to drop 30 more pounds this year for 90 total, and that should get me back to the surviving M-sized shirts I somehow kept from years ago…

    Eventually I found BAF... (One of the service guys at Spokes told me about a thing called Freezing Saddles, which he thought I should look into...)
    Through BAF, more positive change came into my life, directly tied to my biking:
    • Friends of Mt. Vernon Trail. This led me to volunteering in the marathon MVT snow-shoveling day during the shutdown, and volunteering for trash pickup on the Potomac banks at MLK Day... (That trash day led me to abandon all plasticware and paper cups usage at work, starting the next day.)
    • Four Mile Run Conservatory. This led me to volunteering for a clean-up day focused directly south of Mt. Vernon Avenue (~1,200 pounds of trash removed by the group.) And that day brought the discovery of the terrific little 4MR Farmer's Market which I now thoroughly enjoy. And the 1-hour yoga stretch session given at that market, which I finally tried out and plan to continue.
    • Group Rides. @komorebi's massive Arlington Duck was terrific fun! @Judd's great George Washington-themed President's Day tour! These led to working up the nerve to organize a BAF group ride for the first time, which I'll be leading March 9! {Space still available for about 20 more participants as of now.}
    • @reji's stellar "quick picks" idea... This has taken hold of me in a major way! Since she proposed the idea on BAF at Valentine's Day (simply carry some empty grocery bags on each ride, and stop for a few minutes to pick up trail litter until your bags are full) I have now picked up 32 bags of trash in just a small stretch of my commute route.


    My biking to work spilled over onto someone else -- inspiring 1 coworker to try bike commuting last summer. She managed several commutes on nice days... I'm still not sure if the habit will stick with her, but since she actually bought a bike and helmet last year just so she could try it, hopefully that means as warm weather returns she'll give it a chance again!

    Blissfully, I've never had a flat during this year of biking, but I did have my only wreck this past December. The bike slid out from under me in an instant, as the rear wheel passed over a wet manhole cover while making a turn on an empty street. A very hard fall, but thankfully no bike damage (the Mirrycle Mirror took a direct pavement hit and survived) and no broken bones; a huge knot on my upper shin (where the battery case slammed into my leg as I hit the ground) has finally subsided and is starting to fade.

    On another forum I follow (dedicated to e-bikes) it is common to hear what a transformation these bikes have brought to their owners' life… People from all walks and stages of life, with myriad reasons for buying an ebike. As I reflected on the past 365 days with my ebike to write this summary, the touch-points on my weight, fitness & health, my feeling better and healthier, socializing more, getting into far more community engagement than I ever had before, and several positive environmental impacts… It all really drove home for me just how much transformation this e-bike has, in fact, brought to me.

    My couch on the other hand, in a fit of jealous pique, isn’t speaking to me anymore… but I can live with that.
    Last edited by ChristoB50; 03-01-2019 at 08:30 AM. Reason: typos

  2. #2
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    ChristoB50 – bravo. You made my day. Where is my elite button when I need it?!

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    Chris, nice write-up of your first year experiences. Now you need to add some advocacy to your other experiences.

    The Alexandria Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committe (BPAC) will be meeting on March 11 at 7 pm at the Durant Arts Center, 1605 Cameron Street. The meetings are always informative and you already know several members.

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    Bravo and well said, ChristoB50! You just made one of the most effective arguments for e-bikes I've ever seen. Congratulations on the many personal achievements, and thank you for all the ways you've given back to the community -- ranging from the epic snow shoveling to the many, many bags of trash removed to the willingness to jump in and organize your first group ride.

    I also echo what Casey said: BPAC is a great way to get involved in more advocacy, education, or event planning. Hope to see you at the next meeting.

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  8. #6
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    Chris - There's so much to like about your year of biking and I'm glad to see all of the physical, mental, social and environmental benefits that it's had. I'm glad to see that joining the forum has been a key component in supporting that.

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  10. #7
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    Judd is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaseyKane50 View Post
    Chris, nice write-up of your first year experiences. Now you need to add some advocacy to your other experiences.

    The Alexandria Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committe (BPAC) will be meeting on March 11 at 7 pm at the Durant Arts Center, 1605 Cameron Street. The meetings are always informative and you already know several members.
    All of the cool kids participate in Alexandria BPAC. The March 11th meeting is going to be pretty darn good too with three guest speakers: Katy Lang from WalkArlington, Emily Gage from Phoenix Bikes and Champ Burnley from the Virginia Bicycling Federation.

    Also - Plug for joining the Washington Area Bicyclist Association which advocates for better bicycling infrastructure in the DC region. - https://www.waba.org/join

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  12. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judd View Post
    All of the cool kids participate in Alexandria BPAC.
    Curse you, peer pressure and your insidious infiltrating ways! I thought I got thee behind me back in high school!

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