One of my very least favorite activities is biking. Which is weird. You’d think it would be right in my wheelhouse (ha!)— Environmentally friendly, the fresh air, the kick-ass feeling of arriving at your destination under your own power…and also? Cute baskets! They are like purses, for your bike! And let’s not forget, despite being shrouded in snow twenty-seven months of the year, Minneapolis is the number one biking city in America. (Suck it, Portland!) We have absolutely lovely trails and paths dedicated to bikers, one of which runs from the end of my street directly to my place of employment. So I keep trying to like it. But I don’t. I hate it. I’m the person who is forever two-seconds away from running into a parked car because I’m cranked around in my seat, checking the back wheel which I’m certain is flat because -Sweet mother of God!- why is this so hard?!! I tell you what, last Sunday I ran 12 miles and I would rather do that any day of the week than bike the thirty minutes to work.
Take this morning, for example; it was a coolish summer day. Not too hot, not too windy, perfect for biking. I packed up my work clothes and my lunch and my coffee in a backpack and set off. I got all of ten feet before I realize that, yes, the back tire was in fact flat. So I threw up the kickstand, put my backpack in the basket and went to get a bike pump. Of course my hateful bike tipped over, dislodging the lid on my coffee cup and flooding the bag with all that sweet, sweet coffee. This necessitated a panicked repacking of all my work necessities. I pumped up the tire and set off. On the way a large-ish bump sent my mason-jar-packed lunch flying. Smash! My beautiful summer salad all over the street. At this point I have no coffee, no lunch and it’s too damn late to go back and get the car. Also, my bike’s particular geometry is such that it’s prone to picking up large rocks, sticks, and branches. Today it picked up a rock and shot it so forcibly out the chain guard that the rim was dented in the exact correct position so that every time I rotated the pedal it hit the guard and sounded exactly like a bell gong. Every. Single. Time. That wasn’t annoying at all.
I arrived at work hot, sweating profusely, and with a caffeine headache hovering around my right eye. I pounded the counter with my fist. “Why do I continue to do this to myself?!” I demanded of my coworkers who looked at me as if I had blown a gasket. And they were right. I spent the entire ride home sullenly glaring at the other bikers and preparing this list:
Reasons why Biking is the worst.
1) The sitting. As a runner I feel a deep distrust of any exercise that happens in a chair. I know, I know…that sounds so insufferably superior, especially since a casual ride to work makes me feel like my heart might explode. (The whole damn ride must be uphill, there is no other explanation.) So let me just amend it to say that if I was going to exercise sitting down, it wouldn’t be on a seat engineered to replicate the most painful wedgie I ever experienced. Get with the program, bike seat scientists!
2) The gear. I am absolutely gobsmacked every time I putter down the bike path on my creaky old bike and see people going no faster than I in $80 jerseys and aerodynamic helmets. Really? REALLY?! Why do 8 out of 10 amateur bikers feel the need to outfit themselves as if they are about to join the Tour De France? (This is completely different from all my running paraphernalia. I NEED all that stuff. Need it, I say!)
3) People who shout “On your left!” As they pass. This is not a courtesy. This is the surest way to send me careening into the retaining wall at the side of the bike path. I get it, okay? You’re faster than me. Your grandmother’s faster than me. That kid on the Big wheel? Faster. Now shut up and let me hate this ride in peace.
4) Biking hand signals. Sir. That thing you are doing with your arm? I have no idea what that is.
5) Bikers Who do not follow the rules of the road. Dude. When you blew past me, through the red light, you scared me half to death and I’m on a bike. When you shoot past me and I’m in the car? Well, it makes me want to call your mother. You are biking with the same laissez-faire attitude toward your safety as my youngest son and the last time I caught him biking like that, I grounded him for a week.
6) And take off your headphones while you’re at it! You are going to get yourself killed, I swear to god.
7) Those god-awful helmets. Dear lord, the ugliest hats I ever saw. Whenever my kids (rightfully) call me a hypocrite for insisting that they wear helmets while I have never even owned one, I tell them that when they are grown-up they can make all the foolish decisions they want. Besides, if they were really as concerned with my safety as I am with my hair, they would have already bought me this.
Despite the grumpiness virtually dripping off this post, I’m going to continue biking. It’s good for me, dang it, it lowers my environmental footprint and there is no reason for me to be so unreasonably crabby about the whole thing. Eventually I’m going to have to warm to it…or at the very least, I couldn’t like it any less, so what do I have to lose?