April 3

Tuesday was a weird day. Unremembered projects moving their due dates up two weeks, breakups, bad coffee, etc. I got home from campus about 5 o’clock with still more things to do and spent a fair bit of time grumbling to myself about not having an opportunity to ride Newbike on a good-weather day. But then I remembered…the sun won’t set until about 7:15. There was still time! (And screw homework.) Within the next sixty seconds I grabbed my house key and sweater, shooed the cat away from my pile o’ bikes in the garage, and was heading towards campus to get on the Paradise Creek Trail.

I wouldn’t say it was an instant mood improvement; I hesitate to call the streets in my immediate neighborhood as “road” (ever biked over a road so rough that it makes your ears itch? Yeah, it’s shuddersome) and biking in traffic is always a little stressful even when I’m on a bike I already know well. Though I did enjoy imagining that my pretty little mixte was turning heads as we went by. Maybe I’m just in the honeymoon phase of our relationship, but I can’t get over how nice my bike looks :-).

Once I hit campus I really started to enjoy the ride. Particularly once I turned onto Perimeter Dr where it slopes down and there are no stop signs. Newbike positively glided down that road and I found it impossible not to grin. That is, until a bug hit me in the teeth and I remembered why that wasn’t a good idea.

So far, Newbike was feeling pretty good. With the exception of the rough patch/my neighborhood it felt lighter and smoother than my other bikes, but it wasn’t until I got onto the trail that I realized how fast it is. I’ve gone pretty fast before but only on account of going down hills; this was the fastest I’ve ever gone on a flat stretch of road before, and it was so easy. I’ve biked along that trail on my mountain bike, and whenever I do I’m always conscious of feeling like I’m having to push the bike along (not that this is a bad thing; it’s not like it’s a bad feeling to ride my mountain bike), whereas on Newbike it felt more like a happy coincidence that we were travelling at the same speed — I didn’t feel like I was really having to work to make the bike to move at all.

This ride also allowed me to figure out the friction shifters better; except for one mishap where I tried messing with the left lever and the chain nearly came off again, I feel like I have the hang of the right lever at least, and so far it’s suiting my needs. Closer to you is easier, away from you is harder. The trail is pretty flat so I stayed in the hardest setting pretty much the whole time, but the lower gears are sufficient to get me up the hill on the way home, which is the only thing I was worried whether Newbike would be able to handle or not.

Also, I got my first smile from a “serious” cyclist on the trail! Serious, as in, he was wearing spandex. I’m thrilled. I’m not just a student who only rides a bike because they have to and are wishing their parents had gotten them a car, I have a roadbike and it’s a mixte and it’s superawesome classyness all the way. BEHOLD the bike.

By the end of the ride it felt like all the things that were making me feel bad had fallen out of my head and gotten left on the sides of the trail somewhere. Even if there are things in my world making me unhappy, I’m glad something as simple as hopping on my bike can help me leave them behind.

April 4

Tuesday was another one of those days when Moscow tried to trick its residents into thinking it was spring, so Wednesday I rode my mountain bike instead on account of the snow. It was a pretty vanilla day as far as any sort of 30DOB goal might be concerned, but I did have an interesting conversation with a Walmart employee…

I needed rat shavings so after classes I biked to Walmart. When I pulled up to the bike rack there was a girl in thick eye makeup and a cigarette taking a break on the ground next to them. As I was locking up my bike, she asked how far away I lived. I told her it was about two miles from my house to campus, since I really didn’t know how far it was from campus to Walmart.

“You know the bus comes up here, right?” she said.

I said I just like to bike, and it was more fun this way. She gave me a disbelieving look. Guessing at why she might think I was crazy, I explained how even snow is bikeable if you have the right tires, and personally I’ve really only encountered one type of snow that I absolutely couldn’t bike in.

“Haha, okay” and a look that said “I need to stop talking to you before your crazy wears off on me” would sum up her response. In an effort to seem more reasonable I tried to tell her that I rode the bus when the weather was unbikeable, but I don’t think it helped my cause any.

Now, I’m not an insane bike advocate who, like, sets fire to SUVs or anything and thinks cars should be made illegal. I do have a car but I typically only use it for long-distance trips or when I’m feeling poorly, and my bike has suited the majority of my transportation and cargo needs thus far. I think the world would be a healthier, cleaner place if more people replaced local car trips with a bike, but I’m not trying to force anyone to change their lives.

Sometimes I ride the bus but I find that feeling the wind on your face and being able to eat an extra piece of chocolate in the evening is more enjoyable than sitting next to an over-friendly stranger that smells like B.O. and uses right turns as an excuse to lean against me. Just saying.