Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Monday, August 24, 2015

Commuting by bike when you're out of shape

I've been fit for 30 years. That's made it pretty easy to have the opinion that riding your bike to work is easy. You just do it. 

The last few years though, illness that affects my physical capacity has at times reduced how frequently I could ride to work down to twice per week, otherwise I'd get really bagged out from commuting. 

Being less able to handle exercise made choosing to ride to work feel somewhat of a burden, "this is going to make me tired".  

Recently I was between cars so had to rely 100% on the bike for getting to and from work. Luckily it's only a 15-30 minute jaunt depending on if I take the straight shot or get away from traffic and take some trails. 

The first part of this year I was more affected by illness while the past two months blood tests show a mild swing into remission again. 

Feeling less sick is great, especially since it allows me to gain some fitness back. 

I was worried about how tired I was going to get. I had to plan to be less active after work and weekends. 

The first weekend after all week on the bike wasn't that bad. The third week I was pretty cooked, but every week after that was an improvement. 

I used to enjoy riding most days and it was great to be able to feel that again. 

Nothing beats the invigorating ride in and how pumped you feel when you arrive. Even with its sumptuous aroma and buzzy-buzz, coffee can't compete with how uplifted you feel after an active commute to work. 

Still, I was so glad to finally get my new (used) car after 5 weeks of commuting. I was having a few days where the legs felt like wet newspaper and needed a break. 

Enjoying daily riding can get the better of you, healthy and fit, or not. 

It was great to have my fossil fuel burner again. Gave my legs a rest, which made me faster. 

I'm doing some maintenance on the new wheels so I'm without my gas swilling behemoth again. But it's Monday!

Monday I drive to work with my weeks worth of clothing and lunch. I don't want to commute with a full backpack of clothes. What a PITA.  Or maybe, what a whiner. 

With overstuffed backpack in tow I hit the road for what turned out to be my strongest ride of the year, all 15 minutes of it. 

It felt so good to feel strong. The backpack? I got over it. I thought about the times I used to ride everywhere with a backpack. Grocery shopping was done by bike. 

Sure, nowadays there's picking up 10kg of kitty litter, $120.00 worth of groceries, 50kg bags of sand for yard projects etc.. Could use a bike trailer and plan smaller trips, but let's face it, the car is more practical and convenient for the large hauls with multiple stops. Those habits influence your thinking to be car-centric though, and had led me to move away from being bike-centric.. And getting sick only strengthened my less-bike-is-better new outlook. 

There's a balance in there somewhere, and that balance will have a tendency to shift depending on your situation. 

Recently I went through fearing riding my bike to work because it would be physically difficult and make me tired. I've never experienced that in the past. 

I got over that, and my rides got better. 

I'm not going to fool myself. I could very well become more ill again and have to ride less. But.. I'm going to take advantage, whenever I'm able, of how good it feels to ride to work, to gain fitness, and to realize that while cars have real-world use for sure, our dependence on them can cloud our judgment of what our options are, and of how enjoyable it is to have an active commute. 

Leave the car at home, often. Use it when you need it or your body needs a rest. Get out there and ride, walk, jog. 

And don't get disgruntled about backpacks and changing cloths. The real minus is living in a body that's less capable because it's not being exercised. 

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