Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cycling: The New Frontier

In my brief stint as a cycling commuter here in the cycling-friendly climes of Portland, I have learned a few things:

  • The only downside I've found is how it takes away the time I used to devote to reading on the MAX train. That frequently became time spent napping on the MAX train, so I can't claim any substantial loss.
  • Compared with running, biking isn't very strenuous. In level of effort required, biking requires maybe 15% of what running requires to cover a given distance over a given terrain, and for downhill, it's more like 5% or less. I'm probably provoking the ire of cyclists in saying that, and they're probably going to tell me that I'm not going fast enough. Fair enough. It remains true that there is no coasting in running; the runner who seeks to coast down a hill comes to a stop. These estimates also assume I am riding with a backpack carrying 25-40 lbs of assorted stuff, something I never do while running.
  • Notwithstanding any of the above, I have a new-found appreciation for the sport of cycling, and make no mistake: riding a bike is serious work. It's a fantastic thrill to go that fast under one's own power.
  • People who know me ask when I'll do a triathlon since I'm now active in both running and cycling, to which I respond: that other third remains elusive. I love swimming, but I don't have a ready place or time for it, and my First Commandment for physical exercise is

    Thou shalt undertake no workout program that can't be easily integrated into the rest of thy life.

    ... because the inconvenient workout program is the inevitably-dropped exercise program. Also, I'm not in any kind of 'racing' place in my cycling -- I'm still learning and re-learning how it's done. Last but not least, triathletes are weird.
  • To date, this counts as little more than a lark. I've done this biking in the heart of summer, so I haven't faced down any rain, cold, or slippery conditions. Nor have I had a flat tire yet.
I'll see you out there.


Paul said...

Welcome to the club Dale. Your "holier than thou" badge of smugness will be posted out to you once you've had your first flat tyre/ride in the rain/altercation with a motorist.

PS - if you can tell me how training for a marathon can be "easily integrated into the rest of thy life" I'll show you a shallow and empty life that's devoid of beer.



Dale said...

Thanks, Paul. You might see today's post, which casts doubts on my cycling future.