A little over two years ago, I wrote that I wanted to live a car-light life. Considering our constantly shifting living and working situations, and the fact that I had the most reliable, efficient car in our family, I kept my car. I also found it difficult to ride my little mountain bike around — it was the wrong kind of bike to have for commuting purposes and left me exhausted after short distances. I pretty much failed with the goals I had in that post. Yet, I’ve been looking for bikes off and on. For Christmas, my parents gave me a little cash. I set it aside in an envelope and hid it in a drawer, saving it for something ‘special.’ A month ago, I realized exactly what I wanted to use it for: a bike!
Now that we finally live in an area with easy access to the Metra (it’s across the street), shops/libraries/businesses within a couple miles, and my workplace less than four miles away, it’s a great time for me to try bike commuting. Last weekend, my husband and I went to check out a few vintage Schwinn bikes we saw online. I had my eye on a sharp, yellow one. Turns out the guy had dozens of bikes in his garage. I liked the yellow one but kept glancing over at a different, green one in the corner. I asked to see it, rode it, and ended up falling in love with it. I took it home, at half the price of the original bike I checked out.
A 1969 Schwinn Collegiate! This is pretty much the exact bike I had envisioned for the last few years. It still needs work — a new paint job, a chrome job (the chrome handles are so rusted that they’re wrapped in tape), and some odds and ends and personalization. But it’s mine! All mine! It is pretty! Comfortable! Green! Whee!
I am so excited to finally start a car-light life!! I already have plans to bike commute all summer. Yet…. I was more excited about this before today. Today the temperature was finally above 40 degrees and I decided to take it out for my first ride – a mere two-mile round-trip to and from the library. I came home a half hour later sweaty, with sore legs, and my hands covered in grease. Despite yoga classes and running after kids all day, I’m out of shape. Even though my husband checked out the bike and greased it up, the gear chains fell off the bike every time I stopped or slowed down. There is no bike rack right next to our buildings so it stays on our third-floor balcony. It is not a light bike to carry up narrow stairways. My glasses were sliding off my nose from the sweat. I. Am. Tired.
I am completely baffled that it is a struggle for me and yet, I see many people zipping around for miles without an issue. Why? I’m frustrated, exhausted, and kind of embarrassed Bicycling is hard for me. I know the Schwinn isn’t the perfect road commuting bike, but it should get me everywhere within a five-mile radius without a problem, right?
I am hoping this is just a rough beginning. It’ll get better. So, tonight I’ll figure out how to keep the chains from falling off. And tomorrow, I’ll ride a little bit longer.