Category Archives: Cycling

Fitness First

So even though I haven’t been writing about it much, my fitness experiments have continued undocumented. I more or less stopped going to the trainer – really, my 6 month contract ended and although I was getting a lot of benefits and seeing (at least core strengthening) results, I didn’t want to pay the money to be stuck inside a gym during the most beautiful summer months. I’d rather save it up for when it’s gray and miserable out and I need the sauna to feel human.

So my poison of choice? Running and Biking. Two things I am already very familiar with. The added benefit? A likes to do them too! He’s back on the running bandwagon and motivated to push himself hard, which of course pushes me even harder. While I normally give in to “feeling tired” or “I’m not in the mood” knowing that he’s been out pounding the pavement – or that when I go back home we have a run scheduled for the evening – always motivates me to push a little bit further.

I’ve always believed I wouldn’t do well with an exercise partner, or that I hated going to the gym with a friend – mostly because I didn’t like to be tied to someone else’s time constraints, or didn’t want to feel pressured to do more or less than I was comfortable with. While these things are still somewhat true, (I run out of breath because I work myself up to keep up the pace,) it’s been totally motivating to have someone by my side to push me a little bit further and to hold me accountable for what I say I’ll do.

Another bit of motivation? We signed up for a 10k in Berlin in October. Nothing like the thought of panting and crawling along a race path gets me motivated to get my butt moving and start training hard. I don’t need to be a winner at the end, but making it through without losing composure is definitely high on the 10k priority list!

So the fitness conundrum continues and new experiments are undertaken. Does anyone else have as many start and stop bursts of motivation as I do?

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Biking in Wintertime

So upon realizing that the best method of transportation around Berlin is really by bike, I took it up enthusiastically (and slightly tremulously since I hadn’t actually ridden a bike since sometime around the time when my Dad was taking me for haircuts…maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea.)

After a few tries being terrified riding along cars, and then a bad crash in a tram track, I finally got the hang of it and feel as brave as the best of them – with one exception: Winter Bikers.

The minute my face starts to freeze (while my bundled up body sweats profusely from the exercise) I put my bike away for winter. It just isn’t any fun to ride to work with snot freezing on your upper lip. I’d like to think this idea is universal, but it isn’t.

FrozenFace

Berliners are tough and like to ride out the winter, (haha, get it? ride out the winter?) Even some of my colleagues will wrap their tires in chains to be able to tackle the snow and ice you find clogging up the streets and sidewalks.

In my mind, this is not only absolutely crazy it is also incredibly dangerous. As a part-time driver, (I rent car shares with increasing frequency,) I find myself dodging the snow and ice on four wheels, and much less capable of paying attention to the two-wheeled daredevils on the side of the road. When there’s an unexpected patch of ice, or a huge pile of snow blocking your route on bike, what choice do you have but to swerve left to avoid it?

Beyond just being annoyed/scared/nervous about being on the road with them, I am just plain scared for their safety. While waiting for the tram the other morning, I saw a man riding through inches of snow on the ground (imagine how little control you have over your car when driving in snowy conditions – can you picture your tires sometimes swerving unexpectedly left or right?) And he was not just riding down any street, but right on my street. Where the tram goes. Remember my comment above about a bad accident I had when I first arrived landing in the tram tracks?

I watched this poor man crash down so hard and then jump up in visible agony from the fall, trying to “walk it off”. He couldn’t even pick up his bike. It was obvious he had injured his hip. As a couple passersby stopped to help him and his bike to the side of the road, traffice was backing up down the block.

Having been in that position before, I did feel bad for the man for the pain he must have felt, but more than that I just wondered what the hell he thought would happen when riding on a busy street lined with tram tracks after a snow storm? And once he recovered, or hid in the bushes out of view, I watched a man probably in his 60’s ride by with one kid in front, and one on the back. Guess there are just some things I’ll never understand!

My New Ride Has Arrived!

And here she is!! All 11 kilos of her! Now complete with a heavy duty, top-of-the-line lock, back rack, kickstand, and water bottle holder (so strange the things that aren’t standard fitted with bikes in Germany!)

Can’t wait to test her out!

My long-awaited bike is finally home, safe and sound!

In the Wake of Theft, The Adventure Begins Again

This is an update to the Bike Theft incident of a month and a half ago. I came home from a business trip to London to discover my precious 2011 Specialized Vita Sport had been stolen from my courtyard. As a cautious person, who normally locks my bike indoors for extended periods of time, you can imagine how devastated I was to find that it was gone. I posted signs in my building and around the neighborhood, I filed a police report, but still had no chance, in a city where 50,000 bikes are stolen a year, of finding it.

So I began the hunt for the “perfect” replacement. I went back and forth daily between buying a cheap, used bike or an expensive new one. While I know logically it makes sense to buy a cheaper bike so there is less risk of it being stolen, I knew in my heart I wouldn’t have as much fun riding on a bike that didn’t ride as smooth as butter, (that’s right, butter!)

At one point I settled on a beautiful CUBE, (a gorgeous German bike brand,) and confidently marched into the store, credit card in hand and ready to purchase, only to discover it was over 2 kilos (about 5 lbs) more than my former ride and was just not worth the extra $$ to up the weight! (For those who are not as familiar with cycling, the lighter weight the bike, the more expensive it is.)

Coulda Been Mine – if not for the 13.5 Kilos!

So after many long, internal debates and frustrated searches, I finally found a dealer near my apartment, Pedalum Mobile, that specializes in…(drum roll, please) Specialized! I walked in and felt happy as I saw the walls were lined with the most beautiful bikes of the highest caliber, (or pretty damn close to it!) I took the men’s version of the bike I adore, the Sirrus, for a test ride and was thrilled at how lightweight and easy to ride it was.

After commenting to the salesmen, (who humored me in German, and then told me that my German was great but we could switch to English if I preferred, since it was also his mother tongue!) that I wished I could just buy the same bike again, he told me he could make magic happen and order the bike I dreamed of to arrive 3 days later!

So here we are 3 (business) days later and I just got the call that my new 2012 Specialized Vita Sport is waiting with open arms…and spokes…for me at the shop! Can’t wait to go pick it up!!