This Whole Week Was One Big Pain in the Butt

Vacation.  That was mine. 

As opposed to a working vacation doing paperwork (which still needs to get done) or a vacation playing computer games trying to relax my mind I chose very specifically that I wanted to go out for a week and ride my bike.  I planned this in March, it’s been a long wait. 

I’ve learned a couple of amazing things.  I’ve already been up and down most of the major pathways in the city.  It’s only when I branch off into more of the neighbourhood routes that I start to discover new areas.  Of course, new neighbourhoods don’t count at all, there are plenty of them in Calgary.

One of the places I’ve never actually been through in it’s entirety is Fish Creek Park.  I’ve ducked in here and there and certain parts I know rather well, but I’ve never rode one side to the other before.  Pretty cool place. 

I have seen literally thousands of people on the pathway system.  Calgary is fortunate to have such a wonderful pathway system through it for us to use.  Let’s not forget that the pathway system alone is not good enough.  It’s horrible for bicycle commuters as it wends it’s way along the river and the 20 km/h speed limit is simply too slow for commuting in the morning.  Roadways continue to be dangerous and frightening, not only for bicyclists but for motorists as well.

We’d all be well served if we could get over the fear and stick with predictable, communicative transportation of ourselves.  I can’t count the times this week a car swerved way around me into the other lane in order to pass.  Completely needless and my confidence in their driving dropped through the floor when I realized they couldn’t judge how much space I really needed.

Likewise for pedestrians who jump in panic when I ring my bell.  I have no idea how loud I have to ring it from person to person, but I ring it every time I come up behind you and am about to pull into the other lane to pass.  Please, consider my bell a friendly notice that I’m coming up behind you and going around.  It’s nothing to panic over, I’m safe, you’re safe, I’m just going to go past you now.  Please don’t take it as a sign to run every which direction on the pathway. 

Not may of our pathways are twinned yet, to separate pedestrians from bicyclists and inline skaters.  It is frustrating when I’m on a section that is twinned and I have pedestrians carelessly strolling on the bicycle lane.  I saw one bike on the pedestrian lane today and I wanted to yell at him, I saw hundreds of pedestrians strolling down the bike lane.  I don’t even mind the joggers as bad, since they’re moving at a good clip, but if you’re out for a walk, stay on the proper path, please!

Cyclists who are reading this and don’t have a bell, shame on you.  You can get one for a few bucks, it doesn’t make sense to have one.  It’s way easier than saying, “On your left” all the time.  Cyclists who have a bell and refuse to use it while passing me – double shame on you.  Be decent so I don’t have to guess when you’re going by. 

When Mia Birk spoke at the library, she made all cyclists recite a promise that we wouldn’t speed, wouldn’t run red lights, and would basically follow the rules of the road.  Rebel that I am, I wouldn’t recite that because I won’t make a promise I can’t be sure I’ll keep.  I ran a red light this week, I thought to myself, “Ooh, Mia would be pissed if she knew you just did that.“  The shame is complete.  So I told Mia on twitter what I had done and that promise that I didn’t make is going to be kept from here on out. 

There is great power in being clear in your intentions.  If I come up to stop at an intersection, I put my foot down on the ground.  Drivers know what that means - I’m not going anywhere at that point, they don’t have to guess.  We help them, they help us.  I know that I was utterly terrified to cross an intersection with a woman in an SUV waving me through.  She had to slam on her brakes because she wasn’t looking for me, then waved at me once she squealed to a stop.  All I could see in my mind was, “C’mon, c’mon, you made me stop now move your ass so I can slam on the gas and mow you down.”

I know that I can travel approximately 70 km in a day without pushing myself too hard.  That takes me about 3 hours travel time and I could do better if I did push harder.  That will only improve next year.  I know that my trips have necessarily gotten shorter the past couple of days.  My left knee is in far too much pain to keep up that pace all week.  That also will improve.

My cruising cadence averaged about 90 rpm, except for the past two days where it was somewhere between 80 and 90 rpm.  Assuming I was at average cadence, over the week my pedals revolved approximately 120,000 times.

Over the week, I spent 22:35:17 on the bike riding around the city - with a trip to Chestermere.  In total I have went 435 km.  I didn’t really set an expectation of myself, but I thought I’d be doing pretty good to make 250 km.  I’m actually pretty proud of myself.  Next year I want to hit 500 km.

I’ve been using up more and more of my reserves as the week’s worn on.  I’m still trying to shake the acetone breath I’ve had the past couple of days.  It does prove I’m well into burning my fat reserves, though.  I sincerely doubt I’m all that much fitter at the end of this week than I was at the end of last week, but it had to have helped.

One of the groups I passed on the pathways were a dozen or more seniors dressed in lycra.  I have to say, they looked pretty damned good out there, a lot better than I would.  Maybe if I stick with this I’ll be out there looking like them in 20 years.

When I went down to my doctor’s yesterday, one of the things he mentioned was the improvement in my situation.  He upped the dosage on one of my medications, kept me steady on the other, and prescribed that I stay out on my bike.  Smart man.

Ultimately, the week proved to me that this is what I want to do, how I want to travel, how I want to get fit, how I want to enjoy myself.  This is my city.  I feel more in touch with it now than ever.  I’m happy that I finished on the same day the city’s cycling strategy was released.

I’m a cyclist.  A good cyclist.  A respectful cyclist.  I’m part of making Calgary just a little bit better.