Alternative Transportation

This is my bicycle. It is a Schwinn. It is my main form of transportation since I suffered a brain injury in an accident a few years ago. It was a good deal because I bought it in the winter and it is also a cheap model. I’m not complaining, this bike is perfect for me. It really cruises with 21 speeds and I can average about 10mph with the extra weight I carry in my backpack or on the included rack above the rear wheel. It also came stock with disc brakes to help prevent another accident. It also has large, thin tires for less resistance. Above those tires are nice fenders that keep the water off my legs if I hit wet roads. Like I said, it was a pretty good deal. I went into the store looking for most of these features and came out only slightly above $200 lighter.

My first real bicycle was a Schwinn Stingray. It was tricked out with the fat rear tire, banana seat and “ape hanger” handlebars. It was unique to the bicycle world. I’m not proselytizing Schwinn bicycles. They are not even made by the same company anymore. Somebody bought the name and makes them in China now. I am just relating a happy coincidence.

Yesterday I rode my bike to my daughter’s house. It is how I get to see her in the warmer months. The trip is 12.5 miles there and 12.5 miles back. I can do it without raising my heart rate. I’m in pretty good shape for a fat, old man. My daughter lives right on Hampton Beach so it is a great ride. I take the long way around for the ocean views. It also brings back a lot of memories of my childhood. I used to live off the beach in the winter with my family. It was low rent because nobody wanted to live there. A lot has changed with large condo complexes going up and new bars and restaurants. When I was looking for a new place to live I found I was priced out of the area.

I have always liked riding. When I was a teenager I had a mountain bike and I loved to take it out in the winter. I would try to see how long I could keep it upright on an icy road. I took a lot of spills. I would also drive it full speed into freshly plowed snowbanks. It would stop me immediately and I would go upside down over the handlebars and be buried. I did some pretty dumb shit when I was young.

My previous bike was a Trek, on/off road, hybrid. It was basically a mountain bike with street tires. I got it from a former neighbor. He was going to bring it to the dump because the tires were low on air. (Rich people’s problems) I took it to the pump at the gas station and BOOM! Brand new bicycle. At the time I was hypo-manic and I would ride that bike everywhere. I was putting on 25-30 miles a day. My longest ride was about 40 miles and the chain was about to give out before I did. Like I said, I’m in pretty good shape for a fat, old man.

I live in a semi-rural area. The small towns are about 10 miles apart so I can get anywhere in about an hour. Luckily I live in a destination town so I can get to the grocery store and other chain outlets in a matter of minutes.

The bane of my bicycle existence is rain. (besides being run over) I don’t wear any special clothing to protect me. Not even a helmet. (I know, I know) I made a fortunate discovery online. If you type the name of your town and “weather” into Google, it comes up with a very useful app. It shows the temperature, precipitation and wind speed and direction, broken down by the hour and day. I find it very useful in planning which days I can ride. Next to rain, wind speed is an important calculation. A 10mph breeze can make it feel like I am pedaling uphill the whole distance.

I also like biking because it is great exercise. I plugged my info into an online calorie counter and found I was burning about 750 calories an hour at my average speed. That is the most of any exercise I have tried and it sure beats walking in place on a treadmill.

It is also a great way to deal with my mental health. The level of concentration it takes to stay upright and moving forward is a form of meditation for me. It also distracts from all the things going through my head.

Here is a link to another blog post about bicycling which relates to other topics I plan to blog about in the future. ShankJoeJoe

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