Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Baby's first bike ride

Last night I went on my first postpartum bike ride and I brought Linda along. It was late and dark, so I didn't get any pictures of the set up, but I did get some blurry pictures of Linda getting buckled in. This was before we put the cover on the trailer.

I know that carseats aren't made for trailers, but you've got to do what you've got to do. I stay on less-trafficked streets and stop for lights and signs and use lights at night. Yesterday, I bought separate lights for the trailer, so that both it and my bike were visible.

I have something of a fearlessness when it comes to biking. I biked everywhere as a kid, so how hard can it possibly be? So when I had the opportunity to bike to do my visiting teaching, I thought, "Great! I can get back on the bike now!"

My destination was in an area that google maps describes as "Upper Rockridge." "Upper" is code for "in the hills." What my brain forgot was how high those hills are.

You see, I had been riding to College Avenue and back, up until 2 days before Linda was born, on a 1-speed with a 4 year old and 2.5 year old in a trailer behind me. So when I looked at the map, saw that it was just a couple of miles further, and with a newly-tuned 24-speed bike and only a 7 week old in a trailer, I figured I could even trust the google maps estimate of time, which told me I'd get there in 33 minutes.

So at 6:30-ish, I left to get there at 7. Being a few minutes late wouldn't be that bad. With setting up the trailer and hooking it up to the bike and getting Linda in, it was probably a little after 6:30 when we left.

Well, I got 2 blocks and realized I forgot my helmet, so I turned around, got my helmet, and then left again.

It was about 6:40-6:45.

I hit most of the lights well, but I was being cautious in my riding because it was hard to see. I wanted to avoid bumps and potholes for Linda's sake. This was pretty much impossible on Chabot Road. Oakland needs to fix that street.

As I got closer to my destination, the hills got steeper. But that's ok- I had gears! Unfortunately, the hills beat me and the last half mile or so was spent altering between riding and walking the bike. I had climbed 250 feet in elevation in the first 3 miles of the ride. I had to climb another 250 feet in the last half mile. During one of the walking stretches, I checked my time and saw that it was 7:14 and in the act of getting my phone out and putting it back in my pocket, I lost the paper with my directions on them. In the end, I passed and overshot my destination and had to retrace my route. It was probably 7:30 when I finally arrived.

On this bike ride, I realized for the first time, that biking can be hard. I'm not saying all the biking I did last year was easy, but I've never been so worn out that I needed to walk. It probably didn't help that I had already gone running that morning and my body was in dire need of dinner.

Linda's opinion of biking is favorable. She was quiet and content for most of the trip. If it had really been only 33 minutes and I didn't need to walk, she'd have been happy. But once I started walking, she started screaming. And at that point, there was not much to do except keep on walking until I could ride again, which calmed her down. I don't think she napped during the trip, so when we got there, she was tired along with being mad at me for walking the bike. Also, it was evening and I bet her regular colicky self had a part in the upset.

During my visit, it started raining, and my hostess insisted that I not bike home in the rain. Because said it wouldn't rain until 10pm, I hadn't prepared for that possibility. I took her up on her offer though it felt like cheating. She told me to never bike up those hills to her house again and to get a ride next time.

Solid advice, but I'm not sure if I'm going to follow that counsel. I rode my bike last night just to see if I could do it. Once we have an e-assist on a bike, I'm going to have to try it again, simply out of curiosity. Can I do those hills with a Bionx? Time will tell!


  1. I still think it's amazing that you bike everywhere. Way to go. I'm excited to hear about how it is with the fancy new gear.

  2. Biking with the little one is quite an interesting and challenging experience, but you were able to manage it well. Way to go and thanks for sharing!


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