Taking My Bike for a Walk

Specialized Expedition Sport Women’s Bike

I mentioned previously that I was determined to one day be able to ride my bike to work.  I live 6 miles away, so it should be easy, but dang it, it’s hilly here in Flagstaff.  So I rode my bike part of the way a couple of weeks ago, but due to weather, and then a conference I was involved in, I didn’t try again until this past Friday.  You know that hill I complained about before?  Well, I managed to make it both ways without walking the bike.  Amazing. I don’t know if I was stronger or if my gear-shifting had improved dramatically, but I did it.

Since I had conquered that hill, today I decided to try the bike on a different leg of the journey to work. It involves an even bigger hill. Parking my truck at a trailhead on Lonetree and JW Powell road, I took my bike out and headed off to work (not that I intended to go all the way, just wanted to try this part of the route).  I didn’t get far before I had to stop. Yep, it was uphill.  The paved trail goes up to Coconino Community College and then back down.  I couldn’t make it.  This will be a challenge for me.  The bright side? If I can park at Coconino I can ride my bike to work from there.  It won’t be a bad trek in the morning with that downhill start, but coming back I’ll have a chance to practice the uphill portion.

Of course, I still need to get comfortable riding a bike.  It seems unbelievable that a bike was one of my main methods of transportation 15 years ago. Then again, I was in Phoenix, and hills weren’t too common. Gear-shifting is a much more necessary skill here in Flag. My body has also forgotten how to make tight turns.  My god, I am a wreck at turning.  All these fast downhills that usually end with a right or left turn, and I keep applying the brakes so I can slow down enough to make those turns.  Ugh.  On my way back on the ride I took some time at the community college parking lot to practice turning.  I’m still too afraid to lean into these turns, but I did improve some.

Riding back to the truck I had one last incline. I couldn’t do it.  I had to get off and walk the bike. That’s when two young women rode past me up the hill with no problem at all.  Sigh. I know I’ll get there someday, but I sure want to be like that now.

Besides the two young women there seemed a lot of bikers out on the streets today.  Some were even wearing numbers on their outfits, like they were involved in a race.  Sure enough, when I drove my truck onto campus later there were the remains of some kind of bicycle event.  It seems that today was the NAU Circuit Race, which is part of the Summit Center Classic. I’m so glad I didn’t ride onto campus, panting and weaving on my bike. I know I’m not cool, but I hate to see my uncoolness demonstrated to all in such a public way.

If you want to see part of the ride I do on campus and how it climbs and dips, here’s a map.  I start off a little before their marked start, but you can see that it’s about a 40-foot climb.  I know many riders would consider that a slight incline and not a hill, but hey, it’s a hill to me! I ride up past Campbell road, and then cut across to north campus. I just can’t wait until it all seems easy.
NAU Circuit Race

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