Wannabe Environmentalist: Biking to work is harder than it looks

I’m not an avid cyclist. I’m not an avid anything-ist. The only sport I enjoy playing is corporate foosball, which probably doesn’t count, and also really only requires two arms and at least one eye. I don’t think you even need to wear a special uniform to play professional foosball. Or pants. So I’m not sure why I thought the next notch up the Office Sports ladder was riding my bike to work: an actual sport that required athleticism as well as padded pants.

But there was something about street biking (or cycling, as real bike people say) that I was drawn to. Maybe it was the wind-in-my-hair freedom of it, no more being held back by the oppressive nature of gas pumps or getting stuck in the throes of hour-long traffic jams.

And maybe I was also slightly jealous of the stiletto-wearing accountant on the third floor who bikes to work every day in her matching pink bike-suit-thingy and I swear her lean legs have more muscle than my entire body.

Also, I needed a distraction from cutting my own bangs again.

It was an otherwise normal Thursday when I finally decided the following morning would be my Carpe Diem. I’m pretty sure I heard my flabby thighs cry out in protest before I stifled them with my hopeless optimism. How hard could it be? I convinced myself. I rode a bike basically my entire childhood. Plus, riding a bike is sort of like driving a car, except you straddle it. And instead of huffing fumes on the freeway, you get to breathe fresh air and slay cardio goals.

The more I gathered the pros and cons, the more I felt like I had unlocked the secret to commuting. Automobiles are for cavemen! I proudly thought.

When I got home that evening, I tossed my worthless car keys aside (along with my old life) and the new me filled up my Hydroflask. (The new me stays hydrated.)

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Onto my bike of choice: the pink and green ten-speed I received for my 17th birthday. My parents bought this gem for me in the prehistoric days before Amazon Prime, back when parents walked into a physical Toys-R-Us to grab whatever bike was the cheapest.

Kylees Bike

Now that we have product reviews and two-day shipping at our fingertips, I’m pretty sure even kindergarteners in my neighborhood have a better bike than me (not to mention the crazy awesome electric scooters that are now available) but she was a sturdy bike, she’d never let me down.

After retrieving my bike from the corner of garage misfits and dusting it off, I was pleased to see that its handlebars were still shiny. I added a little life to each tire and boom. I was ready for my morning ride.

Except I wasn’t. My bike was in decent shape; I was not. This became apparent to me about five minutes into my commute the next morning, when my cement legs struggled up the first hill. This was no breezy, Sunday paper route. This was Sparta.

I finally got to the top of the hill, limbs rotating like hot rotisserie chickens. My handlebars kept tilting every time I hit a bump, so I had to slow down frequently to readjust. I was exhausted, but I had reached the halfway point! I turned onto the busy road that led to my office, catching snippets of talk radio and hints of kiwi-strawberry vape from the cars that whizzed by.

My office building finally came into view up ahead. I felt like Dorothy reaching Oz. I was dripping with sweat so I decided to pull over to hydrate. Easing off my seat, that’s when I noticed it—butt sweat. I felt like I was prepared for a lot of things in the corporate world, but I was not prepared for that. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have biked in the same outfit I planned to wear to work.

As it turns out, biking to work was not the joyride I had hoped for. It’s like commuting in slow-motion or combining cycling with MarioKart.

I decided that I would keep riding my bike, just not to work quite yet. I did, however, plan to cut my bangs as soon as I got home.

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