Adventures in Cycling: No Spandex (Yet)

Picked up a new bike this last Sunday – I bought last year’s Trek FX 7.3 – I know, awful name. I think the F is for “Fitness” and the X is since it’s kind of a cross between a road bike (skinny tires) and a mountain bike (flat handlebar). I’ve no idea what 7.3 refers to. All I know is I hope to ride this to and from work. Eventually.

The short form backstory is I know how to ride a bike, but I’ve never really been one to ride a bike from point A to point B. I do a lot of riding in a circle – around the block, around a lake, around a parking lot. Once in a blue moon I will ride a bonafide bike trail, but it’s so few times it’s nearly negligible. If I’m not driving my mode of transportation is generally walking. I don’t like running, and while I liked getting back into skateboarding, I am not confident to use that as a way to get anywhere… other than maybe an emergency room.

Biking, however, has always seemed in reach for me. I liked biking; I just never liked it enough to be a primary or even secondary way to get anywhere. I always get the urge, though, whenever “Bike To Work Day” comes around or the Tour de France starts rumbling. So after a mild amount of research and consulting with some bike-savvy friends, I settled on my bike.

I’ve ridden it twice now, though I’ve yet to name it. I did a preliminary ride around the neighborhood blocks the day I got it and got a feel for the gears and the brakes. Then this week I worked at home on Wednesday and at lunch decided to really give it a push. I rode up to the nearby Barefoot Coffee and back. I might have stopped, but I didn’t bring a lock, and it being a shiny brand new bike I didn’t want to walk home. It’s about 6 miles to and from, all paved, but no bike lane. In hindsight that was probably pretty stupid-brave, but I’d actually done this route before on my previous bike — a Dahon C8 folder… don’t ask — just on a Sunday morning when there were next to no cars out. Being a weekday it was still pretty quiet, but I did have a few moments when my already elevated heartrate was kicked into high gear squeezing next to a parked car while a truck blew past. My biggest fear was less that the moving traffic would clip me and more that I would get doored by a parked car.

The trip was completed without incident – my GPS/HRM watch says had an average speed of 12.5mph and a max of 21. Wooo! I averaged a pretty high 154bpm and topped out at 172. It took about 30 minutes there and back – again I didn’t stop for the coffee, just looked longingly at it, so I went 5.8 miles in a single go. That gave me a lot of hope because by a couple tries at Google Maps, my bike route to work is a little more than twice that at 13.5 miles – though a lot of that is spinning around fairly crowded downtown streets, so I’m not doing that just yet. I figured out a route between my work and Julie’s which is about 9 miles. That should be a nice intermediate level ride for me. I’m going to try this Friday after work.

I’m a little concerned that some of the route isn’t paved, but it’s all supposed to be bike trails, so I am expecting less stress from traffic avoidance. The most interesting part is I will be traveling on the bay side of Moffett Field. I’m definitely going to have to stop and take some pictures.

My expected route

I’ll have to do an Open Sorcery post with my gear loadout, but I’m more interested to ride my bike than document it right now, so the report will have to wait for the weekend.

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