Posted by: emilybybike | May 2, 2011

A Year By Bike

It’s been just over a year since I took on the challenge to go by bike, and it has been a pretty amazing year. I’ve ridden through the summer heat of DC, rainstorms, those gorgeous crisp fall days, and I survived the bitter cold winter and the snow and ice. Now as spring is finally in full swing, I’m still pedaling my way around the DC area. I’ll admit that there were some times when I really didn’t want to ride, and even times when I was going by bike when I sure wished I was going some other way. But I pedaled my way through, and more times than not was glad to be going by bike instead of going by car or metro. I’ve gotten to avoid traffic jams, but also had to deal with angry and impatient drivers, as well as some other cyclists and folks on the path who sometimes don’t get it…but on the whole, most folks I do see out on the paths are pretty friendly.

I’ve broken my bike a few times –

Broken spoke…

…but never badly enough that the folks at The Bike Lane (thanks Loren!!) couldn’t fix it up and have me back pedaling in no time at all. I’ve had my bike stolen and thankfully was found by the Arlington Police. Knock-on-wood, I have yet to crash this bike (somewhat a surprise here…)

There have also been a lot of people I’ve met and talked to because of going by bike. I do have fellow commuters stop and ask me about my bike, and the occasional motorist even at stop lights. Recently, I met some of the folks from Bike Arlington, who have been following my journey. And yes, I did get to meet Gary Fisher at the start of this challenge, and I did take is advice on an occasion or two and have attempted to ride in heels (interesting…) although I still have yet to figure out how to make / find a pair of ladies dress shoes I can clip in with. I like to think also, some evening shenanigans in Arlington on the bike helped fuel a new friendship, as a now close friend and I discovered that the bike can carry two passengers for short distances at least. And while taking the bike tandem is fun, it’s not exactly always practical and my friend has recently acquired his own commuter bike so we can both still ride – just not on the same bike.

Through this past year and going by bike, I’ve also learned a lot about myself. While I do have a log of the miles I’ve ridden, I don’t have the exact number of hours – but given a rough estimate – based on this morning’s odometer count of 3028.4 miles, and that it typically takes me about an hour to go just under 14 miles from my apartment to my office – we’re looking at about 224 hours of going by bike in the past year. Looking at that number now, I feel like I could have done better, ridden more. But at the same time, I forget the days I took a different bike to work or the shorter trips I made – as I think I would have had to make 1,892 trips from my home to the grocery store (1.6 miles round trip) to have ridden 3,028 miles in a year. Ouch. But at the same time – take an average car – that gets say 22 miles per gallon – that’s a saving of almost 138 gallons of gas, or at today’s fuel costs – over $500 not spent on gas. (I think that’s right – I wasn’t a math major so if I did a hack job at figuring this out, let me know)

So yes, I hit 3,000 miles last week and have ridden the equivalent of traversing the continental United States, and the miles keep on adding up as I continue to turn the pedals and go by bike. I am looking forward to continuing my journey, adding on the miles and seeing what’s around the next corner. I’ve had my share of detours, road blocks and hills to climb, and I’m not the same girl I was a year ago by any means. I feel that I’ve learned a lot in this past year, I’ve learned a lot about myself and about other folks as well. I can’t really say I have any regrets, and while I’ll look back and smile on the positive things this past year has taught me, I’m most excited about looking forward, and continuing my journey by bike, with both old and new friends at my side and on my wheel.

And finally – a HUGE thanks to the Bike Lane for starting me on this journey a year ago and supporting me as I have gone by bike for the past year! They’re a great shop, super-friendly staff and they have a great group of folks who ride for their team as well!

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Responses

  1. I am a little late getting to this, but on Bike to Work day, I guess it’s fitting…

    Congratulations!!! What an accomplishment Emily. As you know, I have been following you the whole time and I think you have done a great job. I have only been able to do a fraction of what you ahve by bike, and I strive to do more! Thank you for providing me with the motivation to keep at it!!


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