Monday, November 26, 2012

My 2012 on Two Wheels

We're well into November now, and it's definitely too cold to ride my bike, so this seems the appropriate time to sum up my season of biking, now that my bike is hoisted up in the garage for the winter.

This past spring I was inspired by a coworker to try commuting on my bike. I had always loved biking back in college, as I lived a fair distance from most of the campus. Best of all is that this was a form of exercise I truly enjoyed. Since graduating though I slowly stopped riding and my bike remained in storage. I was already taking the bus to and from work, so I could use the bike rack easily. I decided to take the bike into work on the bus in the mornings (to avoid working up a sweat before work), and then biking home once or twice a week as my schedule and the weather allowed. My coworker was able to provide his tips and advice which helped me get started. I was able to keep it up most weeks, although I cut back in mid-summer due to the high heat. Might have to try morning rides in the future.

I ride a Raleigh mountain bike; a tough (and heavy) piece of equipment that has served me well this year. Going into it I was a little unsure about taking a heavy-duty bike for long distance rides (as opposed to a faster, lighter road bike), but I figured if I could handle that it would only make me stronger, and it was the only bike I owned. I also saw the undertaking as a personal challenge, to see what this former heart patient was really capable of.

Tuning up the bike on my ghetto bike stand (ladder + 2 by 4 board)
One aspect of biking this year which I enjoyed more than I expected was GPS tracking. Using my employer-issued Blackberry, I set myself up with the Endomondo sports tracker app. Before every ride, I start recording on my phone, and when I'm done all my stats are uploaded to the website. From there I can see almost any aspect of my performance for the entire ride: speed, altitude, distance, etc... all laid out on a map. Over the course of the spring, summer, and fall I could see my average speed increasing. It became a fun, engaging competition with myself. Best of all I could see my total miles racking up. From April to October I pedaled 279 miles this year. By the end of the season I definitely noticed that hills had become easier and I had more endurance overall.

My miles per month for 2012
I explored a variety of trails between work and home, which was usually an 8-10 mile trip depending on the route. Thankfully Minneapolis has a great trail system, so only a small portion of my rides were on roads or sidewalks. On a few occasions I went out of my way for a 15+ mile trip to take my favorite trail, the Midtown Greenway, a scenic "bike freeway" of sorts through south Minneapolis. The highlight of the summer was participating in the Minneapolis Bike Tour, a 36 mile ride around the city. Several thousand riders turned out for the event and the weather was perfect. Streets were closed just for the event, and several fun pit stops were provided along the route, providing food and water. It was a blast being part of such a big event, and being free to ride at faster speeds on wide open streets. It was also a fun ego boost to be passing some road-bikers on my mountain bike. I will definitely be doing this again.

The 36-mile Minneapolis Bike Tour (shown in blue), as recorded by GPS/Endomondo
A self-shot of me at the finish line of the Minneapolis Bike Tour, Sept 16, 2012
Next season I plan on stepping up my game, riding more often and aiming for more miles, both overall and per ride. I may not be able to change the length of my commute, but I'd like to take some more long distance rides here and there, and see how far I can go to rack up some more personal victories in 2013.

1 comment:

  1. Proud of you for making the effort. Plus it looks like fun.



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