High On Bike

A Bellinghamster On Wheels


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Will Ride For Pizza

Little Shop of HorrorsIt got up to a scorching 84 degrees the other day but I barely noticed. I had three fillings and my last wisdom tooth removed. I’m hyper vigilant about dental care but thanks to bad genetics and living where they refuse to fluoridate the water, I’m basically screwed. Thank goodness for nitrous oxide, I may be screwed but at least I can get a high out of it every once in awhile. I initially thought I’d ride my bike to the dentist but there’s really no good way to go by bike. I may figure out a route someday but not on a day when I was getting a tooth yanked out of my mouth and had to ride home post-nitrous and numb to my eyeballs. Plus I strained my knee a couple of days before taking a hill a little too aggressively and another day of rest wasn’t a bad idea.

So I came home, whined sufficiently to my husband, popped some Tylenol, grabbed a book, and read for a bit as I waited rather impatiently for some feeling to return to my mouth. I don’t know why they can’t come up with an antidote for Novocain that actually works and doesn’t cost a fortune. They came up with a little blue pill that can put lead in a man’s pencil for next to nothing so you’d think they could give you something after a visit to the dentist so you didn’t have to walk around wondering if you had a line of drool dripping out of the corner of your mouth for the next several hours.

DooThe minute a little feeling returned I ate some ice cream with chocolate sauce to fortify myself before I tricked our little girl kitty with some cooked chicken so I could catch her and put her into the travel cage to take her to the Vet. She’s lost some weight recently and because she’s 12 (that’s 70 in human years in case you needed that bit of cat trivia) we decided we should get her checked out. Here’s where I tell you that I get super stressed and anxious taking my cats to the Vet. The only reason I don’t yowl and meow plaintively on the way there is that I try to set a good example for them. They don’t buy it for a second however and complain vociferously despite my best efforts. Fortunately our Vet is only about a mile away. I thought about taking my bike for about a second. Strapping a cage filled with an unhappy, loud cat is probably doable but just because it is doesn’t mean you should. Kitty is fine. But we were both exhausted from the trauma. It was 5:00 PM before I realized it was hot, but then I was too worn out to care.

Trader JoesThe next day though, was a different day and about 10 degrees cooler, I had full feeling in my mouth, my cat forgave me (a healthy portion of chicken helped), and my knee felt good enough to ride down to Trader Joe’s to pick up stuff to make a pizza later that night. I just wish they’d get their bike parking issue solved. Last time I went the already large bike rack was so full I had to lock my bike up to a bench. After fielding tons of complaints, the property manager has decided to do something about it. But who knows how many studies they’ll have to do before they get it resolved. I could resolve it in two seconds— just put up another bike rack! But that’s me. Worst case scenario: I just ride around the lot until some space opens up, aggravating all Canadians in their SUVs who come down for the cheap prices, vying for their own version of a parking space. Fortunately there was room on the rack and I didn’t have to annoy our neighbors to the North.

If you’ve read this far and are not comatose, you’re probably wondering what’s the point of this post. So am I. Just kidding. As much as I love to commute by bike and do so at every opportunity, there are times when it’s just not possible. It makes sense to pick up pizza fixins by bike, but not so much taking kitty to the Vet or riding with a nitrous hangover. But I eat pizza much more than I ever go to the Vet or dentist so there’s always someplace to ride.

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So I Ride

Illinois LaneI ride because it’s fun. It’s also healthy, good for the environment, and my gas budget, but if it weren’t fun, none of that would matter. It’s what gets me on my bike almost every day, even when I’m tired, not feeling my best, or just not in the mood. No other form of “exercise” has equaled it. I used to love to run but I was injury-prone and couldn’t do it every day. I certainly couldn’t jog down to the store and come home with a 6-pound chicken for dinner. Walking is okay but definitely falls around midpoint on the fun scale. I enjoy it, especially when I’m walking with a friend, but I’m not exhilarated by it. Walking won’t get me out on a chilly, wet day like riding will either. I do go to the gym to work on strength training regularly. I’ve done so since I was in my mid 30s, which means I started around the Jurassic period. But until I started riding, it had become increasingly (and alarmingly) easy to blow off going when the mood struck. Now I eagerly look forward to the gym simply because I can get there on my bike.

Whatcom Falls Bridge 2013And I absolutely love getting places by bike. Doesn’t matter where. Drug store, groceries, hair appointment, library, even my doctor’s office (although my doctor would probably prefer me not showing up all sweaty and stinking), all easily within riding distance. Some places I don’t ride to because the trails won’t take me there and the traffic is insanely scary which I hate because Bellingham is a relatively small city and I feel there shouldn’t be anywhere where I can’t go without fearing for my life. Yeah I know, there are cyclists who’d say go anyway, but I’m not having fun if I think I might actually die. But those places are few so I really can’t complain…too much anyway.

Because I ride, Bellingham feels more intimate. Side streets and neighborhoods come alive with people, gardens, cats, dogs, and even wildlife like deer and raccoons. The trails are full of people—walkers, runners, other cyclists, bird watchers—who smile and wave at me as I cruise on by. I’m more connected to the rhythms of town as they pulse fast or slow depending on the time of day, the weather, the season. Every day is a new adventure. Every day is fun. So I ride.