Saturday, January 04, 2014

Getting back on the bike.

One of my vows for the new year is to get more exercise. That, combined with a Facebook friend getting a really awesome new bike. I had a moment of awesome new bike envy, which lasted until it was supplanted by the shame of "Wait, you have a bike. It's covered in dust and cobwebs, and sitting on two flat tires in your garage." I resolved on the spot to get that bike out on New Year's Day, when, of course, it poured rain all day. Today was the first day I could make do on my vow, and I did.

I think someone in comments asked me days ago what kind of bike I have, and I was so distracted by work, the blog, the bathroom disaster, and everything, I never answered, so I hope that commenter sees this. I have a Trek Pure Lowstep. Mine is pink, and looks like this:




I like the pink, but I'm slightly miffed that now it's available in that pretty violet color that wasn't an option the year I bought mine. My local bike shop had it in pink, so I bought it in pink. It's a very easy basic bike, minimal gearing, comfortable seat, and no hopping on and off and jarring the knees. My knees have issues, and though they rarely hurt after I changed my diet, their mechanical problems remain. I have to treat them gently.

Anyway, I cleaned off my poor neglected bike, pumped up the flat tires, and took it for a short ride. I did several loops around quiet nearby streets, probably about 5 miles total, but I didn't want to get too far from home on a first ride, just in case there was a mechanical issue stemming from my extreme neglect and the bike and I had to walk home. But it seems just fine, the gears shifted smoothly and the brakes worked properly, so tomorrow, weather permitting, I'll take it out again, on a slightly longer ride. My knees have to be re-introduced to the bike slowly, lest they refuse to let me stand up on Monday, but gentle biking is literally just what the doctor ordered for strengthening my congenitally weak knees.

As I was cleaning it off before the ride, my neighbor came outside. He's one of those old guys who always has to say something jolly (he's in commercial real estate) and of course he had to ask if it was a new bike, and then ask me teasingly if he could watch me get on and ride it. I think he thought I'd have some difficulty. I said, "Just as long as it doesn't end up on YouTube!" and pedaled off, thankfully without wobbling and making an ass of myself. It had been well over a year since the last time I'd chased the spiders off the handlebars, and then I didn't ride it more than once or twice before it got too hot and I got too busy, or whatever excuse I told myself.

Oddly enough, bikes play a major supporting role in my latest audiobook listen. The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times. The tv series "Call the Midwife" is in my Netflix list, but I haven't watched anything but Sesame Street or Curious George on Netflix in many months, so I've never watched a single episode. I decided to give the audiobook a try, and WOW!

This is a fabulous book - beautifully written, intelligent, full of sometimes horrifying facts about the history of women's health, especially surrounding childbirth, but mostly a vividly drawn portrait of a period of time and a segment of society that truly doesn't exist anymore. And the midwives pedal to their patients in the East End on bicycles, so there are constant references to bikes and riding - I didn't choose this book because of the bikes, and I had already decided to start riding again before I started the book. But yes, it's a funny little bit of serendipity that the many references to riding are somehow reinforcing my desire to get back on my bike again.



11 comments:

Anonymous said...

The 'Call the Midwife' series is great - and although the conditions (post-war London) are often horrific most of the characters portrayed are as feisty as Murphy.
It is now on 'silly season' repeat here, and is sometimes the only decent evening TV.
Have read the book, and one or two follow-up books on the same era.

Gae, in Callala Bay

Carolyn said...

Love your bike, and good for you! I am glad I helped spark the flame in you. I will have to check out that novel, too!

Brenda said...

I have watched the series and read the first book, and I can't imagine being as young and inexperienced as those nurses were and going off by yourself in the middle of the night to attend to a home birth. Especially on a bicycle in all kinds of weather. I thought it was interesting where she talked about not being afraid to be out alone at night---even in the roughest neighborhoods, people respected their work and looked out for them. My poor bike is covered in cobwebs too---the snowplow just went by---we got about two inches of snow this afternoon and the high temperature is supposed to be around zero tomorrow. Two years ago, my mom and I rode our bikes on Christmas and New Year's days, but this year hasn't been so kind.

Catherine said...

I know, that's what I meant about it really being a different time - a 22 year old getting on a bike and riding into a "rough" neighborhood, and nobody would dream of hurting her! And those women, raising enormous families in tiny houses with minimal sanitation, and with rare exceptions, they worked their butts off to keep their households in order. Back-breaking work by most standards, even in that era.

Catherine said...

Carolyn, I swear, I saw your bike and thought, "Ooh, that's such a great bike, if I had that bike I'd love to ride it!" and then realized that it's just what I said about the bike I have. If I get to the point that I'm taking my bike to thehttp://www.traillink.com/trail/cross-seminole-trail.aspx the Cross-Seminole trail head to ride every weekend, which is my ultimate goal, then, maybe, I'll need to upgrade the bike. I am far from needing to do that.

Carolyn said...

Catherine, you will be surprised at what may happen. I had my Diamondback only about 6 months, but put 500 miles on it (it gets addictive),then found I was wanting to attain better speed than what it wanted to do... Not that I want to race, but I just felt limited. Bill saw this bike the first of December, pointed it out to me (enticed me with it... haha). Went back down to spend holiday with the kids who live a block or so from the West Orange Trail, and the rest is history. I keep up with my miles on Map My Ride and Cyclemeter. Good tools to keep me motivated.

Catherine said...

I'm already feeling a bit limited by the Pure. It has a light frame and I can put it in my Subaru with ease, it's easy on and off and effortless to ride, which is why I wanted it, but I know that it isn't up to a long trail ride. I am going to check Map My Run (I use it for walks) to see if I really need to add Map My Ride, or if it's just a different setting.

Carolyn said...

Not sure if those two overlap or not. On Map My Ride, you CAN specify other activities to track. I'm guessing Map My Run has similar capabilities. My problem is I forget to specify what I am doing and prefer to leave mine set on cycling. Interestingly enough, my Diamondback was a "comfort bike", but this new bike is even more comfortable.

I got a bike rack, but I live in a mud hole and have to transport my bike elsewhere to ride every time.

Brenda said...

Back to "Call the Midwife"---when the pill became widely available, it put them out of business. I think we take reliable birth control kind of for granted today, but it really hasn't been around that long. Not to get too political, but reading that book made me think about what a HUGE difference that it makes in our quality of life. (My maternal grandmother died at 52 after having seven children, and my paternal grandmother died at 34 or 35 after having a set of twins. I'm sure the primitive prenatal care they received contributed, too.)

Catherine said...

I don't know if the Pill put them out of business, or if the "influential wealthy mommies" having doctor-attended hospital births did. Delaney's birth was attended by a nurse-midwife in a maternity hospital, and that is more and more common. My gram was one of FOURTEEN kids, and my father would joke about "Aunt Fruitful and Uncle Prolific," and their TWENTY-ONE kids. (There wasn't much to do at night during a cold Maine winter.) Certainly families got smaller once women had real control over their own fertility. And yes, I'm old enough to have been aware (I think I was 6 years old) of this new thing called The Pill that nobody could stop talking about!

Jane said...

Nice, all my Diamondback mountain bikes are good after many years of use though!