Tales of a Budding Bicyclist

by on June 11th, 2015

Wanna go for a rideI’ve been commuting to work on my bike for the last three years.  I started because my doctor said that I wasn’t exercising enough.  My grandma has Type 2 diabetes and my dad is pre-diabetic, and my doctor said I was traveling down that same path.  It shook me up enough to do something about it.  Riding my bike to work seemed like a good solution.  I got some exercise, and I didn’t have to sacrifice any of my precious free time.  At first, I was a little anxious to ride on the road.  The Iowa DOT has great resources for bicyclists including safety information for both motorists and bicyclists

Bike Safety

I’ve internalized the safety tips for bicyclists, especially this one–Make eye contact with motorists.
Never assume a motorist sees you or that you have the right-of-way. Expect the unexpected such as: parked vehicles pulling into traffic; vehicle doors opening into your path; and debris on the road

I can’t count how many times I’ve thought, “They see me, right?  Nope, they totally don’t see me.”  Also, motorists, I feel your pain, because you read that “Obey traffic signs and signals” in the bicyclists column and thought, “Yeah, they totally don’t do that.”  I do!  I wish more of my fellow bicyclists did too.

I didn’t expect to like riding my bike so much.  Now I go on longer rides.  I even bought some bike shorts.  Not the super tight spandex kind, but the baggy kind (this Amazon review that said they were like “wearing a fully loaded diaper” is what won me over).   I recently took a ride to North Liberty and back.  Again, the DOT website is great for planning rides like that, because they have an interactive bike map.  I know what you’re thinking, “Brian, I use Google Maps!”  Google Maps is the best, but have you ever used it to plan a bike ride?  It’s awful for that!  If you plug in the ride I just went on, this is the route it tells you to take:

You don't need to know where I live

For some reason it doesn’t want you to use the awesome Clear Creek Trail, which makes for a prettier and safer ride.  That trail is easily found on the DOT map.  Also, Google Maps considers Mormon Trek a “bicycle-friendly road” which is completely bonkers.

I’m going to make an effort to take part in more local bike events and rides.  ThinkBicyles.org has a good page listing the cycling events in Johnson County, and Bike Iowa has a comprehensive and searchable list of events across the state.  The big one, of course, is RAGBRAI.  I’ve never gone on it before, but this year I’m riding the last day from Coralville to Davenport.  I’m really excited!

2 Responses to “Tales of a Budding Bicyclist”

  1. M Burkey says:

    I used Google Maps to plan a route to North Liberty and it recommended the bike trail after I switched from car mode to bicycle mode above the start and finish of the route.

    Google Maps has been trouble in my long route planning because a rode looks paved from the sky and I arrive to find gravel roads which aren’t fun on my bike. A friend recommended downloading the road maps from the different counties which will tell you if they are paved or gravel.

    Happy riding!

  2. Melody says:

    I pull down my sunglasses when riding pass someone mowing their lawn. Blinding-by-debris is a real thing!

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