Summer is about to end, okay technically it will last until mid-September, but I work at a University and we are already gearing up for the fall semester (which begins in two weeks). M and I have been car free as possible for two months and got rid of our car a few weeks ago. We did go camping last weekend for M’s b-day and rented a car ( the old car would have never made it, so no matter what we were going to have to rent a car). For all those saying ” Hah, see you can’t go totally car free!” The goal was “as car-free as possible”. Sometimes you just need to use a car, just not most of the time. I will keep posting on things to do in Albuquerque with a bike, so do not fear. The experiment is nearly over, but biking around town is not. I am curious how well we will fare this winter. For this post I thought I would just post some lessons learned.
Lesson One: Always have plenty of water with you. Being that we live in a desert this is a given, but is easily overlooked. I think I actually did better at staying hydrated in general. I know I did not drink water as much as I should before the experiment.
Lesson Two: Check the air pressure in your tires once a week. Bike tires loose about 10 psi every week. I used to add air once a month and this was with me riding my bike for 20 miles every Friday. Before I rode with any regularity, I found myself baffled that my tires would go flat in between rides and assumed it was because the valve stem was bad. I knew that tubes slowly lost air over time, just not 10 psi per week. For those of you who drive a car, you might want to consider checking you tires every couple of times you fill up. Come on how many people wait until they get an oil change? If you wait that long you are waiting to long. Which is not only asking for a flat tire, but causing you more money at the pump.
Lesson Three: Always have a spare tube or two in you pack. This is goat head territory so extra tubes and slime are a must have. Serious cyclists that try to get he lightest ride possible would balk at the idea of the extra weight added from the slime, but 8 ounces of slime in your tires is a lot better than walking that 15-20 lbs of carbon fiber lightness all the way home. Plus my 2000 Kona Lava Dome is a Chromoly frame. Half a pound on this ride is nothing.
Lesson Four: Tools. Besides an extra tube it is a good idea to carry a good multi-tool. In M and my case that also meant having a pocket-sized 15mm wrench for her non-quick release bikes. Having a city map is also a good idea. Even if you have a smartphone a paper map is always a good idea because batteries die.
Lesson Five: Have fun and enjoy the time you are spending outside not stuck in traffic. I found that as we made more trips we got better at finding roads that were less frequented by cars and had little to no traffic lights. No traffic lights equals faster trip times.
I am sure we learned more, but these are the things that stood out for me. I will give you one more, not a lesson learned but a tip for those less experienced riders. Always ride with the flow of traffic , Never ride against it. This is true if you are riding on the street or on the sidewalk. I know your grandma told you to ride against traffic so you could see the cars better, but it actually far more dangerous because it gives car drivers less time to see you and respond. One more thing, If you are riding on the sidewalk you must go at a speed that is slow enough for pedestrians to react to you. Do not ride your bike against the flow of traffic, at the speed of a car, on the side-walk. The pedestrian has very little time to react to what is basically a very fast-moving, light weight car heading straight towards them.
Okay, off my soap box.