Too sick to ride

I woke up Sunday with a pulled muscle in my back, in too much pain to play cyclocross or do much of anything. It’s a recurring thing from an old car crash and I’ve never put much thought into the crash, but as I think more about cars versus bikes these days (not in terms of War on Cars, but in terms of selecting to use one over the other on a day-by-day basis), I’m starting to cast off the veil of our car culture. It’s not just me: see Apathy by Tiny Helmets Big Bikes. I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t even blame the car crash for my neck problems at first. Shortly after the crash, we moved offices and the risers for my monitor got misplaced so I blamed staring at a screen five inches too low for my sudden neck pain. It couldn’t possibly be the car crash in which my seat belt didn’t lock and I flew full speed into the air bag–with enough force to bloody my nose, fatten my lip, and swell my eyes shut for 24 hours (though the eye thing was probably more from irritation at the powder the air bag was packed in–awful stuff!). Funnily enough, my friend who was dropping me off at the subway station after a post-work function struck a brand-new street calming island he didn’t notice.

So my neck acts up every so often, though usually not to the degree it did yesterday. By this morning I was mostly mobile so we hopped on the bike. In any regular scenario, if I’m too sick to bike, I’m also too sick to drive. Today it was easier to swivel in my saddle to look over my shoulder than it would have been to wrench my neck to the side to check my car’s huge blind spots. Old me probably wouldn’t have chosen the bike, but becoming a parent creates a new level of resilience. Or maybe it’s a new level of resignedness. Either way, my motto (as of today) is: if you’re well enough to take a panda shot, you’re well enough to ride a bike.

First panda of the day

I’ve never bothered to check the bus schedule to school, but it looks like if I timed things carefully, I could manage school dropoff by bus.

And thank goodness we biked because I would have missed some cool stuff! I saw a brand-new-to-me white Bullitt cargo bike with wooden box, Linnette on her Boda Boda cargo bike, and a couple other friends as well.

After 4.5 kidmiles on the 75-pound bike with 85 pounds of kids, I swapped to the 20-pound road bike to ride 12 regular miles and visit the chiropractor. Full disclosure: after this road bike panda, I dropped the iPhone in the street, but that doesn’t disqualify me.

Second panda of the day

And errands wait for no one, so I snuck in a few of those after the neck repair. First up, I had to swing by Counterbalance Bicycles and thank them for having tuned up my brakes two weeks ago. Of all days, today was the day I nearly got squished by a license-plate-less delivery van en route to the chiropractor. The guy behind me who also nearly got squished said “Nice braking!” to me. It is the closest call I have ever experienced…though had I been on the mamabike, I’d probably have assumed the guy would force the right of way and not have entered the intersection. As I replied to nice-braking guy, “You can’t be too defensive!” Though obviously, that’s exactly what I wasn’t in this case.

Then bank and grocery store. I won’t say I’m completely recuperated, but I was certainly well enough to lift my 20-pound bike to park like Opal…though not until I tracked her down inside to ask a couple questions:
“Does it only work with a fixie”
“Is the U-lock helping hold it in place?”

Parking like a hipster

I swapped back to the Big Dummy for preschool pickup at 1 p.m. and had the pleasure of seeing a new-to-me bakfiets on the Fremont Bridge! Naturally I sped up to catch her and ask as many questions as I could before it got creepy.

Baby on bakfiets!

One-kid, uphill panda:

Third panda of the day

For 3:30 first grader pickup, I walked while the four-year old biked, but we were all back on bikes for soccer practice a couple hours later. Despite the lingering neck pain, I offered to carry both kids and their bikes those first four uphill blocks. Imagine my relief when they both insisted on riding the whole way. Of course the little guy can’t manage the hills, so I got to carry him and his bike. Panda!

Fourth panda of the day

But soon enough we were riding in a little pack of separate bikes. It’s getting to feel much more natural to ride like this–I’ll write about the transition soon.

Riding with the kids, separately

We stopped at Dick’s Drive-In on the way home because nothing hones a kid’s riding skills like making his way through a Dick’s parking lot. Side note: I’m so glad it’s the end of soccer season so our weekly post-practice french fry tradition can come to an end (for now, at least). But thank goodness for our tradition today, because a woman approached me to talk about bikes. Turns out she just moved here from Belgium and has a Batavus she carries her daughter on. She already seemed pretty tapped in, knowing of G & O Family Cyclery, Hub and Bespoke, and Kidical Mass. She didn’t have her bike with her today, but I have a feeling I’ll see it soon!

The things I would have missed today had I been too sick to ride!

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8 thoughts on “Too sick to ride

  1. This is so awesome! Since starting to ride my bike regularly, I’ve noticed other awesome benefits – mostly that I stick to a five-mile radius for errands and typically visit small, local businesses. Don’t know if I’ll ever be as hardcore as you, but I’m getting there! Also, I love the concept of kid miles. Those extra pounds make a big difference!

    • Thanks! I needed to read this today, as I start my morning moving soooo slowly, feeling old and broken. I’m not sure if I’m hardcore or stubborn. And the cargo bike brings it out :)

  2. Thanks for the inspiration. I get many interesting comments about bike commuting. Recent ones were “why?”, “It will be time to put your bike away soon due to cold weather” & “why don’t you just ride motorcycles” (after a mom saw us on our Big Dummy). So I look forward to your posts & know I’m not alone. Funny thing is we are in a city not far from Boulder, CO (where biking is huge).

  3. I have had a cold that turned into a sinus infection for the past two weeks, and decided I’d still ride my bike to commute (do the preschool dropoff, then to work). I have been stopping to blow my nose a lot, and I’m pretty fatigued, but I think it’s been actually better for me to exercise a bit and get some fresh air than to sit in the car.

    • I feel the same way about colds! Though I haven’t had a sinus infection–that doesn’t sound fun :( I always like seeing a fellow bike commuter also blowing his/her nose across the street at a red light. Sick bicyclists unite!

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