I for the first time in my life since I was a teenager am the proud owner of a bicycle. Purchasing the bicycle was a conscious decision in an effort to have an easier barrier of entry to working out, and less of an excuse not to. A bicycle is the perfect answer for me to burn time and energy on the way to and from work. I can commute since I am only about 7 miles away. For the times when it’s not so convenient, I can simply jump on the train with my bike.
For those of you that are readers of my blog, please rest easy knowing that while Chris Hammond was quite pushy in influencing me to get a bike, I didn’t get it for or because of him! :D
I am not a bike rider. Even though I have ridden nearly 150 miles within the last month (since I’ve owned my bike) as of the writing of this post, for me the bicycle is my gateway to putting my feet to the pavement again. I suspect that I won’t stop riding the bike, but I really can’t wait until I am once again running 3+ miles as a regular workout – like the good ol’ days!
Back to the topic of the post though…
From the first day that I tried riding, I found that riding longer distances wasn’t difficult when you have the right conditions and bicycle. My first ride was with my son. We were just fooling around on a Saturday and decided to see where we could explore. We rode 12.5 miles before we realized how much time and how many miles had transpired!
This is an area where I will give Chris Hammond full credit. The Strava website and app are incredibly great! You can track and compete on all of your bike rides and runs. I highly recommend using this app and service if you run or bike (or both).
Immediately, I set some goals for myself… The most prominent one was to ride at least 20 miles in a single ride. Heck, if I could ride 12.5 miles, what’s another 8 miles?
Luckily, there are great websites like TrailLink that help you find great places and trails to ride your bike, and do other outdoor activities. That’s my primary place that I go to in order to find a new route to ride on the weekends. However, the site isn’t perfect, so it’s a great starting point. I usually end up on Google Maps before I actually leave the house. Another great site if you’re in the San Francisco Bay area is BayTrail.org.
Using both sites, I had intended to have a 20 mile ride under my belt 2 weeks ago. Unfortunately, the maps and sites have no way to let you know if a reserve is closed off due to construction or conservation, preventing access to part of the trail. Those rides were 14.3 and 12.9 miles, respectively.
Finally, I was able to accomplish this on Sunday! I went on a trail that starts in East Palo Alto (almost next to the Facebook headquarters), and ends in San Jose, CA. This is part of the greater Bay Trail, called San Francisco Bay Trail (East Palo Alto to San Jose).
The main portion of this trail is 22.5 miles all on it’s own, but there are other trails connected to it, including loops, making the actual possible distance many more miles longer. I rode from the northern most possible point in the East Palo Alto portion, down to Mountain View (right next to the Google campus). That was just over 11 miles and was the first moment that I remembered to look at my distance traveled. There was so much scenery that I was completely distracted up to that point.
Above all, my proudest realization of this ride is the fact that I didn’t rest for any longer than the amount of time it took to drink a bit of water or take a picture!
Those of you that are bike enthusiasts, you might notice that I don’t have much elevation in my rides. I am not very interested in elevation. My highest elevation so far has been just over 300 feet. I wouldn’t have gone that high if it weren’t me trying to get home. Hehehe…
I wrote all of this for a purpose… I have neglected my health for far too long, giving way too many excuses. Once I put my mind back to it and I stopped accepting my own excuses, I have found that I can put myself on the right road to being fit once again. If I can do it, so can you! :)
The coolest thing is that you can get the whole family out, and you can see some cool things like I’ve been taking pictures of and posting to my Flickr like you see below.