May is National Bike Month. Therefore, the Cascade Bicycle Club decided to put on a Commute Challenge for the entire month. Companies sign up a team and each team member has to commit to riding their bike to work at least 5 times in the month. My co-worker, Katie, decided to gauge interest in the office and we got a team of 8 together – Katie, Kathryn, Frances, Allison, Nick, Scott, Nathan and me. I’m such a sucker for these things – like when Katie asked who was interested in doing the 100 push-up challenge and I said yes. Or when Autumn asked if someone was interested in running a half marathon and I said yes. Now this and I said yes… even without owning a bike or a helmet or a bike lock or really not having ridden a bike in over a year.
In an effort to solve this aforementioned problem, I scoured Craigslist and hit up Recycled Cycles, but didn’t find anything that was in my price range or it just was not the right bike. On one of my trips home, I stopped by Fred Meyer with my mom and I found one! They said they had a couple at the Ballard store, so I decided I would pick it up that next week – so exciting!
So one drizzly Monday evening, after an advisor’s meeting, I head on over to FM for my bike. After searching the store, I finally find the bikes locked up in the garden department due to a remodel. I find a salesperson to unlock them and he was looking at me pretty weird. I could just hear his thoughts, “What the hell is this lady doing buying a bike after 10pm on a Monday night?” I could just feel the judgment, but it didn’t end there. I went to check out and the cashier lady actually said that this was one of the more interesting late night purchases she’s ever had. I told her about my challenge and she was like, “You signed up for this without owning a bike?!” Affirmative.
Then I joyfully leave the store, bike, lock and helmet in tow. I get to my car and attempt to put the seats down… more attempting. Nada. Looks like I don’t know how to do this. I even ask these 3 high school boys to help me out and they are like in my trunk and backseat and they can’t even do it. So I realize what has to happen: I have to ride my bike home.
This would seem to be an easy feat since I live pretty close to the store, but I was in my dress pants, high heels and a coat. Not typical riding attire. ‘Oh well, I’m tough,’ I think. I hide my purse, get my keys and strap on the helmet. Oh wait, there’s a large cardboard extension (to hang it on the display), almost like an oversized visor, attached to the helmet. It’s ok, I’ll rip it off. OR NOT! It’s pretty much childproof and I don’t have a knife with me. So, I figure it’s not a big deal and put it on anyway. I look good.
So I’m cruising through the parking lot with my heels, pimped out helmet and tags hanging from my bike – laughing the whole way just thinking of what I must look like. People probably thought I was: a. Crazy, b. Drunk, c. Clepto, or d. All of the above. Then all of a sudden, my chain falls off and I start slowing down quickly. Crap. So I try to take my feet off the pedals, but I find that my heels are stuck in them! I’m about to accept fate that I’m going to fall over when I decide to take my foot out of my heel, onto the cold, dirty, wet pavement. Gross, but I survive. I fix my chain while getting disgustingly greasy and managing to even get some on my face, then finish the ride home. Bring my bike in my apartment and start on the walk back to my car. I surprisingly make it to my car unscathed; I thought for sure I would be mugged or something after the whole ordeal. And that’s the story of my bike purchase.
Since then, I’ve grown to like my bike after having a rocky start to our relationship. I’ve been riding to work and it’s actually pretty fun! I get a little energy from it, feel a little “green,” and I’m saving money on gas (minimal, but some). Today it was Starbucks Bike to Work Day, so they have a bunch of “commute stations” with free swag set up across the city – one along my ride at the Fremont Bridge. I felt like a badass next to all of these hardcore bikers because they have no idea that I’m a novice in comparison… well, until we get back on the road and they speed past me. At least I try.