Adventures in Cycling

I live in Toronto.

Need I elaborate further why the prospect of riding around town on two wheels scares the crap out of me?

Toronto is not the most bike friendly of places but apparently it is worse in Florida where the speed limit is higher, there are no bike lanes and they make a sport of trying to run you off the road. (Before you rush to send hate mail, Floridians relayed this to me to help assuage my fear of cycling in T.O.).

I am the first to admit I am a timid cyclist. I haven’t ridden a bike in decades- since my expensive (for the time, $500+) bike was stolen- in Toronto.

It’s not that I don’t have anything to ride. A friend of mine gave me her old rickety 10-speed when she moved to Calgary more than 15 years ago and I have the bike I rode when I was in high school that needs a serious overhaul but should be rideable- at least in theory.

Friends even gave me a new-ish mountain bike and helmet they no longer use, AND took me to MEC to get a bike lock and lights. Another friend is giving me a bell- helpful in alerting drivers in parked cars that you are approaching. The last thing I want is to flip over a car door.

I had no legitimate excuse not to take it on the road but it took me months and even then, only because my friend rode with me. Cycling was a convenient way to get to my volunteer shifts downtown (during the tennis tournament) and there was only so much ribbing I could take- months of nudging and constant eyerolling can take its toll.

How did it go? Well, I survived the first week of cycling. The majority of the riding I did was at 6:30 in the morning when traffic is light, so if you consider that a cheat, too bad.

I could always focus on the scenic route along the lakeshore but if I am going to use cycling as a means of transportation, I have to suck it up. I’ll avoid high traffic areas as much as possible (though I had to ride on a short stretch of Bloor Street the other day) and try to plan my route to include the highest percentage of bike lanes as possible- not an easy task. Toronto is just not that bike friendly, yet.

I need to get my butt on the bike and explore a little every day- easier said than done because I am so intimidated that if I think about it too much, I become paralyzed with anxiety and end up walking. Other than the fear of bodily harm, I really just don’t want to look like a jackass on the bike. Fearful and vain, an awesome combination.

In know my comfort level will increase with each ride. I have to keep telling myself that.

I’ll even start to believe it after a while- as long as I don’t die in the process.


~ by angryegg on August 22, 2013.

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