On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I'm a "savvy cyclist"

Sometimes I do things that aren't related to running at all!

Actually, often I do.  Roughly 23 hours of my day are filled with non-running related activities, unless you want to get all technical and say that my sleeping is rest in preparation for running, and my eating is fueling for running, and my showering is cleaning the sweat from a run... but I think that's overkill and I think you know what I mean.

This weekend, though, I did something fitness-related that wasn't running: I became a "Savvy Cyclist" via Bike New York's bicycle education program.  I have this bike that I bought last year, with lofty, ambitious goals of riding everywhere.  Instead, it collects dust.

Yeah, my bookshelves are messy, what of it?

The program was straightforward.  First, we watched a safety video.  Then we discussed safety on the roads.  Specific to New York, this essentially means assertiveness.  If you want to be treated like a vehicle, you must act like a vehicle.  The lack of confidence that many of us feel while riding on the streets is pretty obvious, and to a car? This timidity causes cars to do dumb shit like cut us off, pass us all willy-nilly, and otherwise endanger our experience.  In other words, being more confident and more assertive on the road (and knowing how to handle our bikes) actually creates a safer riding environment.

Of course, there was more to the class than the classroom portion.  There was also the part wherein I learned that my tires could hold 60-80psi of air pressure, and that they were currently at 20psi.  Or the part where we did drills and I realized that I do not stop my bike effectively.  Or the 4 mile ride on the streets where I became acutely aware of all of the obstacles in our way ordinarily (and where I got a nasty sunburn).

The class was free, and they even gave us a water bottle with a light, a reflective band, and a flat tire kit to take home.  Sweet deal.

Honestly?  There are times when I think that this city seriously sucks - days when it takes me two hours to run a simple, simple errand and I'm exhausted and the subway station is 110 degrees and the train doesn't come and when it does, it's completely full.  Days when I get my iphone stolen out of my hand in front of my apartment building.  Days when I get home from work and realize I left my keys at the office and therefore have to spend 90 minutes going back to work with all my crap to get my keys.

Then there are days when I take a totally free, pretty awesome cycling class and meet new, interesting people AND learn that there's a Rita's Water Ice in New York and follow it up with a lovely ride home along the river, and those days are not bad at all.


  1. What a cool program. Riding in traffic (even in my little rural Ohio town) scares the crap out of me. But it sounds like with resources like that at your fingertips, one can really become savvy! Very cool!

  2. It was a really cool program! I still can't believe it was free. The same group also gives out helmets! Like, gives them out. For free.

    I don't know if I'll ever be super comfortable riding in traffic, though - it's pretty insane here. I feel like I'm taking my life in my hands every time I do it. Both the other cyclists and the cars are just so aggressive.

  3. this sounds awesome - i love reading your posts...i am a country mouse living vicariously through your city life :)

  4. Thank you! Country mouse - does that make me a city rat, then? :)