Monday, November 7, 2016

Onto My Bike, Into My Neighborhood

Onto My Bike, Into My Neighborhood
Just a short post this week, and thanks again to J Money at RockStar Finance, and Eric Ravenscraft and Kristin Wong at LifeHacker for featuring my little blog over the past couple weeks. I really appreciate you sharing a couple recent posts with all your readers, and I've been smiling all week as a result.

Arizona's weather is weird. Now that fall is upon us, we can finally turn off the AC for good and get outside again. A couple weeks ago, I put a new tube on one of my bike tires and decided to pedal on over to our kickball game. It was only about a mile ride, but it was fantastic.

Over the long hot summer, I forgot how nice it is to bike. The speed is just right for getting to see the neighborhood. A lot of houses are being remodeled. Political signs are out in yards. The 'only-in-Arizona' winter lawns are being put down. (The weather is so extreme here that those who want a green lawn all year round have to put down Rye grass seeds for their "winter lawns" when the Bermuda grass goes dormant.) It's the best time of year, and every fall I remember what I love about our little city when I bike through its streets.

The farmer's markets are opening up again. Joggers and cyclists and rollerbladers cruise along the multi-use path in the city's greenbelt, stretching on for miles. And, of course, there's kickball.

Onto My Bike, Into My Neighborhood

I've started getting our groceries on my bike again. Locking up my old, eighties bike outside, walking through the grocery aisles with my backpack on like some high schooler, and awkwardly squeezing all the veggies and meat inside the bag while the employees look on. I don't really like explaining that I'm on a bike because I think it sounds pretentious: like I'm bragging. So I just try to cram everything in there as quickly as possible and get out of there before the person behind me in line starts glaring.

I am re-learning old routes to the places I normally go: the grocery store, the park, the library. I'm in wonder, always, at the manicured roads and paths that are paid for with our puny tax dollars. Anyone can use them, as much as they like, no matter how little or how much they make, and that makes me smile.

I'm still pretty out of practice and the seat hurts my butt after even a short ride. I have to lean forward and distribute my weight onto my arms, trying to be a little aerodynamic.

I still drive the car sometimes, like when I had to pick up some beer, champagne, and bourbon for an election potluck we're hosting. (Champagne for victory, bourbon for defeat.) I'll always appreciate our little Matrix -- the shifting of the gears and being able to crank the AC when it's 118 outside. But driving in a car is like traveling in a bubble. You're insulated, listening to whatever music you'd like while shutting out any noise from outside. You're on autopilot. 

On our scooters, I'm at least outside of the cage but the major roads we ride on are so fast (45 - 50 mph) that you're constantly aware of the danger that surrounds you. 

But I take different routes on my bike. I'd never ride on a 50 mph three lane road, let alone a freeway. I take roundabout paths to wherever I'm going, cruising through neighborhoods and crossstreets with 25 mph speedlimits, where I'm just as likely to see a couple walking as I am someone driving. Sure, it takes longer. That's kind of the point.

Just like how Route 66 is more enjoyable a journey than the interstates which replaced it, the jaunt through my neighborhood is more enjoyable because it puts me in a real neighborhood.

I forget this every summer, but I'm always glad to remember it again. I've missed you, bike.


*Photo is from Dru Bloomfield at Flickr Creative Commons.

18 comments:

  1. ExploreMountainsOnSkiFoot&BikeNovember 7, 2016 at 8:15 AM

    Very nice article. I like biking to work, the grocery store, around town and to the trail heads for the same reasons. However, in Montana, this time of year, I am wondering if this will be the last bike ride for a while. I am putting more clothes on and enjoying the dry roads and trails before the snow arrives.

    Enjoy pedaling.

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    1. Yeah, Montana is probably the polar (yuk yuk) opposite of Arizona in terms of biking. We're gearing up (man, someone stop me) right as you guys are putting the bike in the garage for the winter.

      I know MMM bikes during the winter but I've never tried it.

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  2. Awwww... reading this post made me very happy! Of course, I'm also feeling jealous as we're getting to the end of good bike riding weather here in Denver. Still no snow though, and CatMan and I managed a 60 mile ride on Saturday before the doom and gloom of standard time with the sun setting at 5pm now.

    One random thought... I can't actually imagine riding my road bike without proper bike shorts - it would just be too uncomfortable. Have you thought about getting a different saddle - one more suited to the way you use your bike? On my "errand bike" I have a big soft gushy saddle that's wonderfully comfortable for short rides (meaning 10 miles or less). My only complaint is that if it's hot enough to do much sweating, the surface area is large enough to leave a rather, um.... "interesting" wet spot on my rear end! So I have to wear shorts that won't show the sweat if I use it in the summer.

    Anyhow, so glad you're enjoying your bike again!

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    1. True, maybe a new seat would do the trick. I use my bike as a means of getting to wherever I need to go for errands/short trips, and I probably wouldn't be wearing biking shorts...so maybe a new cushy seat would help. I usually find that my "butt bones" adjust after a couple weeks of regular riding, but who knows if that's optimal.

      And thanks for the pro-tip on the "interesting wet spot". Will definitely want to avoid that. :)

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  3. Arizona's fall is like most people's summers! Even thought it's not that hot year round where I live in LA, I am enjoying the cooler "fall" weather. It gives me an excuse to make a lot of crockpot soup.

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    1. I know our weather is crazy but, this time of year, I love it. I'll never have anything as nice as San Diego (probably never moving back) so this is the closest I can get...for half the year.

      Crockpot soup sounds amazing. Have a favorite recipe?

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  4. That's cool about lifehacker etc... nice one DbF!

    This was a very pleasant read :)

    I'm glad to hear someone actually writing about enjoying their local area and seeing the good stuff in it rather than moaning about it which is what you hear so often, despite those people not looking any further than the end of their noses or their car windscreen to actually see what is out there.

    I still haven't bought a bike despite reading MMM for over 3 years now. The reason I guess is that our neighboured in the UK tend to be far more walkable that US ones anyway so there is very little need for it. We're situated 15 minute walk from town, 10 minutes from a decent grocery store, and 10-15 from a nice big park. So I tend to just walk or run anywhere I need to go. Saying that... we definitely use the car too much on shorter journeys as well but now we've got the excuse of having a very young baby I can't see that changing for at least another year. I will be looking into baby bike transport when she's old enough though for sure!

    We drove most of route 66 in '08 and it was really interesting, although we only gave ourselves about a week to get from Chicago to Las Vegas, I don't think I quite got the whole slow travel thing back then which is a shame as there was so much to see and we rushed through a lot of it. Interstate driving is so boring isn't it!

    At least it's a good excuse to go and do it properly again one day I guess :D

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    1. Thanks for the comment, FIREStarter. Our regular grocer is less than a mile away but the bike lets us get out to some different ones, so that's nice. But I probably could just follow your lead and walk to most of the places I go, and get a better workout. :)

      My wife and her friend drove all of Route 66 a few years back and had a blast. Never done it myself but got to see some photos. :)

      We talk about doing a very long bike ride with camping gear, like maybe crossing a state, but who knows?

      And yeah, with a very young baby, bike is probably riskier than it needs to be. Walking & car seem like the way to go.

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  5. Great to read a post from another Arizona resident. I used to work at the resort from your picture at the top of this article. I spent many shifts walking around that lake planning my early retirement.

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    1. Congrats on your early retirement! If you ever wanted to chat, or be featured on the blog, let me know. I have an idea for a local podcast in the old noggin.

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  6. Very nice DB40! Over the last year or two I have increased my biking around Chicago and it's been great. I've done the jam everything into the book bag a few times as well. Monday morning rides to work are the toughest and most rewarding and just wait till you ride down to your favorite brewery and pick up a growler of your favorite blend it's a rewarding experience. Right up there with chopping wood, wearing flannel, and growing a beard:). It's great I've even got the wife into riding a little more so it's been a fun experience,this past Sunday she asked if it was OK to ride her bike to the grocery store since I was walking, made me smile. Enjoy the AZ winter, I know my parents have already started talking about sitting outside again so you know it's getting better.

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    1. Hey Even Steven!

      I've not yet grown an awesome beard (probably not in the cards due to my Filipino heritage) and I've lost all my flannels over the years, but maybe I can chop some wood this week.

      My wife's in the market for a new bike, too, so I hope to get some couple rides in soon.

      And yes, it's definitely sit outside weather these days. :)

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  7. Love this. Living in the country, riding to the store is a bit.....time consuming, but we do take advantage of trips around the 'hood and on nearby state and county parks - we have lots of them up here. Keep on bikin'!

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    1. Thanks, Laurie! I know this wouldn't work for everyone, depending on where the store is. But having county & state parks nearby sounds a lot more scenic than most rides!

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  8. I have not rode a bike in years. My husband tells me that he thinks I don't know how to ride, but I can assure you that it was one of my fave things to do when I was a kid. It's perfect for our weather most of the year.

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    1. Pittsburgh is gnarly for bike riding...but if you can hack it there, you can ride almost anywhere

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  9. Your post reminded me that it has been too long since we've been out on our bikes. I'll have to remedy that soon. We had fun times biking this summer because introduced Toddler BITA to our bikes (bike seat on Mr. BITAs bike) and she loved it!

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    1. How neat! I bet biking with the family is fun. One more thing to look forward to. Thanks for commenting, Mrs. BITA!

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