Adventures in Cycling: Picture Fails, Unexpected Off-Roading and Pedal Fights

Hey all! How was your week?  Mine was looooong and slow but I’m so glad it’s over.  We finished another section this week in class and started on heart diseases and birth defects.  I also started biking to and from work this week.  I only did it once but I did two practice runs on Sunday and Monday. 

There have been more then a couple hiccups trying to find a route to work that’s suitable for a beginner cyclist.  My first route was a straight shot on a major road that leads right into base.  It turned out that was a terrible idea because half of that road is torn up by construction and the roads are almost too narrow even for the cars. 

Then I found another route that I THOUGHT avoided the construction but when I drove it home on Monday, I decided it was out of the question for afternoon riding.  The construction was bad and the traffic was even worse!  Stop and go is terrible in a car. I’m not subjecting myself to it in a bike next to a bunch of people in cars frustrated with the construction. 

cars and cyclists

[source]

However, on my drive home I saw that the trail I rode on Sunday met up with one of the roads that leads straight into base.  I tried to find a way to get to it but AGAIN the construction blocked my way.  So, I went home and hopped on my bike to do some more exploring.  When all was said and done, I had talked to a cyclist and a pedestrian on the route and both said the trail led straight to base and I should have no problem commuting.

Today is the story of my THIRD attempt at a safe route home on Wednesday.  Sarcastic smile

The ride to work was mostly just fine.  I got up at 445 and left by 530.  The road was quiet and without a lot of traffic which was really relaxing.  The hills were tortuous though and I found myself thinking a couple of times that “I can walk faster than I’m biking right now.”  The only scary part was at my ONLY left turn to get to base, a car drove up in the lane next to me and honked at me.  It scared the living daylights out of me!  They weren’t even in my lane so I know they were just being jerks! All in all though, it only took me 30 minutes to get to school and I felt pretty good about the ride in its entirety. 

When I got to school, an instructor and I discussed and mapped my route home just to make sure it really was good to go.  Everything seemed fine so at 1630 I slapped on some sunscreen, squeezed into my ultra cool padded spandex and rolled out. 

  • Take a right and a left to get to the north gate – check
  • Exit base and go straight to bike route – check . . . kind of
    • The bike trail was marked on a sidewalk which seemed really odd but I took it anyways
  • Take freeway access road to get back to country bike trail – Not. Even. Close.

I looked and looked for this road that would lead me to my trail and the only way to get to it was to cross the freeway and then bike into oncoming traffic.  So I took a turnaround and crossed the freeway.  I was actually really close to a military hospital so I walked my bike up to an MP (military police) so I could ask for directions. 

Me – Excuse me, do you know the safest way to get to the next road just this way north?

MP – Ma’am, if it’s off post, I can’t help you.

Me – ???  Sooo, you can’t tell me how to get to that road?

MP – If it’s off post, I can’t help you.

Me – Annoyed

So I turned around and walked my bike up the wrong side of the freeway and prayed no one would honk at me or hit me.  After a quarter of a mile I reached the road, hopped on my bike, rode about a 100 yards only to find a train parked across my road.

REALLY!?!

I did get a laugh when after about 5 minutes a bicycle popped out from between the train cars followed by the cyclist.  Before he rode off he told me he didn’t recommend hiking the train cars but that he’d already been standing there half an hour.  I considered doing the same but then the image of my getting crushed by a train and Aaron not getting my life insurance because I was dumb stopped me.  So, I stood there for about 20-25 minutes just waiting on this thing to start and move. It was either that or take the freeway again. It finally started moving when I realized I should snap a picture for the blog but by the time my phone timed in (I need a new phone!!!), this is all I got. 

IMAG0193

Picture fail #1

I caught a mini break after this though.  I saw a contractor gate that looked like it might go right into post and there was another guard.  This one was a civilian and infinitely nicer.  He gave me the gate times and the street names that would lead me right into post.  Woohoo, that train will never interrupt my ride again and I won’t have to get on the freeway again either! 

(I swear this story ends soon Smile  )

There is one portion of this route that is impacted by the construction but I can get around it by walking under the overpass (this is why this is my afternoon route).  However, as I got closer, another cyclist whizzed past me.  I figured he may know a better way around it so I picked up the pace to follow him.  Before I knew it he was offroad, going over big rocks and then what looked like a clear path.  His clear path turned out to be a big mud puddle that I went right through before I could stop. 

<insert girly moment about being all dirty now!>

I finally got past that area and was finally safe on the bike trail when I went over a creek and saw a crane.  When I pulled out my camera though and finished waiting for it to time in, the crane was gone!  Picture Fail #2.  Did I mention that I need a new phone?  It turned out ok though.  When I got just a little further there was another one chilling out by the bridge.

IMAG0195

I finally got home after:

IMG_4714

and I was dirty to boot.

IMAG0196

Lessons from my first commute:

  • Map your route thoroughly and practice it at the times you’ll ride it.
  • Don’t follow cyclists you don’t know . . . you’ll get dirty
  • MPs are mean, civilian cops are friendly
  • Always carry water, I didn’t have any water because I thought it’d be a short ride.  It wasn’t and I was unprepared.
  • Bike pedals are mean too

IMG_4711IMG_4712

I still think this is going to be worth the savings in gas and extra exercise, so I’m not calling my ride a deterrent from ever riding again Smile  Actually after I finish this beautiful bowl of goodness, I’m off to try to tackle 15 miles. 

IMG_4710

  • Slowcooker steelcut oats
  • Chia
  • Maple Syrup
  • Honey Peanut Butter
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Last of the roasted pecans/almonds

Hope ya’ll have a wonderful Saturday!

Anyone have some tips for a beginner cyclist commuting to/from work?

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3 thoughts on “Adventures in Cycling: Picture Fails, Unexpected Off-Roading and Pedal Fights

  1. - Map your route thoroughly and practice it, -but what if getting lost is part of the adventure?
    – Don’t follow cyclists you don’t know . . . you’ll get dirty, -but getting dirty is the best part!
    – MPs are mean, civilian cops are friendly, -true, maybe, depends…..well they are people too……….
    -Always carry water, -oh sooooo true.
    – Bike pedals are mean too, -especially the bear claw ones! get clip ins. more efficient and they work more muscles!

  2. That was quite the adventure! Getting dirty would have been the worst part to me. Once you work the links out, I think you’re going to really like biking to work.

    My little brother is an MP. He is kind of mean. ;) it’s lame that the MP wouldn’t help you at all. And annoying.*

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