I do not ask this question rhetorically, but as part of my thinking-outloud process: Is 2016 going to be my year of cycling?
I think it might be:
Negatives to me are the following: Losing downtime that I get on the bus, hills and rain. Since I want to be successful at this riding thing (otherwise, why invest in the expense of a bike) – here’s my strategy for each:
Loss of downtime: I get a lot of knitting done on the bus. If I stop taking the bus I’ll have to take my lunch break to compensate for the lost knitting time. Also, cycling cuts my commute time in half so I have more time at home in the morning and evening.
Hills: I really hate hills. Probably the number one reason that I stopped riding to work a few years back is because on the way home I have to tackle the Adanac hill and I seriously hated it every time. Friends tell me that all I need is a better bike/more gears/ etc etc. I don’t actually believe that, I’ve ridden three different bikes previously and none of them made a difference to how hard that was for me. I am prepared, however, to keep an open mind on this. First I’m going to experiment by getting a new bicycle that is more suited to me than those I previously owned and I’m going to start riding as soon as I’m organized to do so in the new year. If I notice that hills are stopping me from riding and a super-miserable experience after a couple of months than I am fully prepared to look into purchasing this type of electric assist which seems to me the most versatile of the bunch.
Rain and cold weather: I’m not prepared to ride on frosty/icy days – that’s beyond my skill level – but since Vancouver gets very few of those in a year mostly what I have to focus on is rain. In previous bouts of riding to work, I was stubborn about not investing in rain gear for cycling. Instead I bought really good (expensive and waterproof) panniers which were a great investment, and then re-purposed camping clothing during inclement weather. For some things that totally works, but I’ve come to realize that I need a decent cycling jacket and some of those things that cover your shoes and keep the rain off them. Probably a pair of cycling tights that slough off water wouldn’t hurt either. Point being, I’ve got to invest in some purpose-built gear that isn’t flappy or baggy (like some of the camping rain pants are) – and that fits me properly. Also, cycling gloves. I hate it when my hands get all wet and slippery.
I suppose the biggest thing that I’m going to do to ensure riding success is purchase a brand new, properly fitted bicycle that is appropriate to the purpose of commuting and otherwise getting around town. While I’ve had some lovely bikes in the past, I have never once gotten one new and with the appropriate sized frame for me. Since I’m on the short-side, that means I’ve mostly ridden bikes that are too big and a bit precarious to get on/off. Also, I like the idea of a mixte frame because I’d like to be able to ride in a skirt from time to time- but I’m aware that might not be what I end up with. I want to get something that is not too heavy (30 pounds or under), and has fenders and the ability to put a pannier rack on the back. According to everyone I know, I also want something with a wide range of gears.
I think I’ll start my search at SideSaddle Bikes which is in my hood (close enough) and which I keep hearing good things about as a woman-focused bike shop, and I’m pretty committed to getting on this purchase as soon as the holidays are over so I can start riding early in the new year (I already know I can ride in good weather – let’s see if I can tough out the worst months).
I’ll let you know how it goes – the purchase, the gear, the beginnings of riding again. This is not my first foray into cycle-commuting of course – but it *is* my most serious. I’m hoping the cash outlay will keep me motivated long enough for it to become an actual habit that I enjoy!