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Burning Calories, Not Gas!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I stole my blog title from today's guest dailySpark blog by Samuel C Klontz:

The blog is about bike commuting to work - the benefits and the hassles. But ultimately it IS about burning calories over gas and for the most part, really enjoying the daily trek to and from the office.

I wasn't aware that May was National Bike Month, nor was I aware that this week is National "Bike To Work" Week, but I'm thrilled that I'm participating in such a great thing anyway having already made the decision on my own in April to become more intimate with my pink lady bike, "Roxie" for the month of May. She's so pretty :)

As part of the Spring into Shape Bootcamp that I'm doing this month, I decided one of the easiest ways to kill two birds with one stone (getting to work and getting in my 5 days of cardio per week) was to dust off the bike, pump up the tires and darn well use it! The night before I started to ride I spent about 2 hours in the basement getting to know Roxie and all her parts. I adjusted the gear shift and the handle bars - figured out that the breaks were rubbing badly on the back wheel causing unnecessary friction and taught myself how to adjust those too. I greased the chain and oiled all the squeaky connections. I was feeling quite the handywoman by the end of it all!

It's honestly not as hard as it seems. Bikes are, by nature, simple pieces of equipment that actually have very few moving parts to figure out. And before you ride, you SHOULD be familiar with the ways in which your bike can (and inevitably will) work for you and against you. And always have a back-up plan! (Mine's loading Roxie on the nearest bus).

So far things have worked out great. After that first scary ride to and from the office, I'm now biking to work 3-4 days a week, swimming and doing Zumba for my other couple of cardio days. The first step was getting over the fear I had of sharing the road with cars and getting more confident with how Roxie maneuvers and feels to ride, switching gears and understanding what the gear shift is there for, choosing the route of least resistance with the lightest traffic and deciding whether or not I was going to ride at night. The next step was getting over the DOMS and the initial butt soreness of the first few days of riding - which is no pleasant feat, but you just gotta get back in that saddle and ride again! It DOES go away eventually.

I have now graduated from just riding to and from work, to riding to work, then rehearsal or show, then home, sometimes making a trip back to my theatre in between all of that. I can't tell you the amount of time I've saved waiting for and taking crowded rush hour buses! In fact, I have gone ahead and switched out my bus pass from a monthly rate to a pay-per-use for the rest of the summer. How's that for motivation to keep riding?! The money I'm saving will either go towards my trip to Africa in August, or to something else nice for myself.

It's not all sunshine and roses out there though. This morning a car turning left to catch a yellow light almost hit me. I've experienced riding in VERY heavy winds and fluctuating temperatures for the past week that have made the ride, at times, very unpleasant. Biking activates MAJOR muscle groups in the body including the core and the quads, glutes and calves, which I have now found makes me into a ravenous beast the majority of the time. If I'm not careful, I can easily eat back all the calories that I have burned (which surprisingly aren't as many as I wanted them to be) and so far, biking has not done me any favours on the scale. I'm attributing it to the fact that my quads are packing on major muscle, and since they're the largest group in the body, that must mean that they weigh quite a bit more than the fat that I'm losing off of them. I'll know more about my measurements in another couple of weeks when bootcamp wraps up, but for the time being, I seem to be losing more off my waist and hips, but not my legs. Whatever - I'll take it!

Biking all month has also put running on the back burner for a while. After a not-so-great 5K race a couple of weeks ago, I've decided to take the month off running. I'm giving myself a chance to miss it, because if I miss it, I'll want to do it again - and right now I don't miss it enough.

While training for races gives me a purpose for pushing myself harder and further on two feet, biking serves its own purpose on two wheels. It's providing me a daily function of getting to and from places in my work clothes (something I can't do if I'm running). I feel healthier, more confident, and I'll admit it - kinda cool out there - with the breeze in my face and the wind (hopefully) at my back!

And finally, it's putting me back in touch with my inner child. The child who won a brand new pink bike in a raffle at my local bike rodeo when I was 10, but who at that point in life was already too overweight to ride and really enjoy it. Sure I got some use out of that bike, but all too soon it was collecting dust in the garage rafters with the rest of my recreational equipment. I remember feeling a little heartbroken when my dad finally dragged it out of storage to sell at a family garage sale. Part of me wanted to protest, but a bigger part of me knew that if I wasn't going to use it, then I didn't deserve to have it. And when the little girl and her father who bought it for her walked away with their new treasure, I knew that bike belonged more to her than it ever had to me anyway.

It took me 20 years to invest in another bike. But this time I'll be darned if my pink lady is going to hang in the rafters collecting cobwebs. She was made to ride and I owe both her and myself another lap around the block.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thanks for renewing my interest in cycling. We have some great "rail trails" in my area that I would love to try. Sounds like a lot of fun and a great way to burn off those stubborn calories. emoticon
    2552 days ago
    I love Roxie. Enjoy the ride!

    2558 days ago
    Biking is how i broke my first plateau, so cycling is really my first love, plan on doing it more this year for my cross training....

    umm I have to ask... is Roxie still seeing her boyfriend you mentioned a while ago or was it "Gone With The Schwinn"?

    emoticon I know, THAT was corny but I had to bring that up...
    2564 days ago
    You go girl! emoticon
    2564 days ago
    Rock Star for Roxie! I love it!

    And...I may have to dust off my bike this weekend...ahemmmm...
    2564 days ago
    Roxie IS beautiful!

    I'm riding my bike to work on Friday and am really looking forward to it!
    2564 days ago
    I LOVE that you named your bike - and of course that she's pink! You're also way braver than I am; I would never dare to bike in Chicago traffic. I could probably bike to work faster than I can drive, but I refuse to do it because I'd have to go through some very scary neighborhoods. You should have seen the look on Pat's face when I mentioned the idea of biking to work, lol. He knows better than to forbid me to do anything, but I think he'd try if I wanted to do that. I'm really impressed by you!
    2564 days ago
    You are rocking it with Roxie! How cool that it is National Bike Month and Bike to Work Week. You are so right about having a back up plan. The other day when I picked up my bike from the shop. My bike felt really good, everything was tightened, shifting now worked, I was so happy. I rode about 3 miles, during which I hit a few bad holes. Suddenly the front tire sounded a little funny. I stopped and it was flat. GRRRRR! I then proceeded to walk my bike 1.5 miles to the closest air hose that I could think of. When I got there, already frustrated, I filled the tire with air, for it only to release all of the air I put in. Fortunately, I was at another bike shop (not a gas station), so I had them put in a new inner tube. Apparently my inner tube had split at the seam. I'm glad it wasn't the tire. I've been riding my bike to the gym and back now. I am looking forward to the Bike the Drive in two weeks. Should be fun and perfect for National Bike Month.

    As far as not running, just think of biking a cross training. You need to trick your body and change things up every once in a while.

    Enjoy the Riding. emoticon
    2564 days ago
    YES! I'm also a bike commuter and it's my #1 fitness and weight loss tool. Mine isn't nearly as cute though!
    2564 days ago
    Made me wish I had a work to bike to. My hubby used to bike to work when his office was closer.

    Still, I want to get out. I live near a very nice jogging / bike trail. I'm thinking of getting a Big Butt seat though. =)
    2564 days ago
    You are just amazing. I love that you are letting your inner child free, and I have a mad crush on Roxie!!
    2564 days ago
    I love riding my bike to work too. It finally stopped raining every day so mine is coming out of storage today. Don't worry soon the lost inches will be easy to see.
    2564 days ago
    You've inspired me to finally get off my butt and get our bikes tuned up so we can ride them this year.
    2564 days ago
    Great job. It sounds like you've embraced the experience and benefiting from it. Whoot!
    2564 days ago
    I love it!!! You're a rock star for riding in the cold snap! Keep it up, I may see you out there on the streets of Chicago!
    2564 days ago
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