Be Safe

Every once in awhile, I read something in the news that hits home and reminds me how important safety is. It’s easy to go about the day without giving it much thought. Over the last few months there have been a few incidents on the Springwater Trail here in Portland. The most recent was that a woman was pushed off her bike by a strange man:

“My wife was pushed off of her bike on spring water east of Powell Butte. Around 8:30 PM 8/6/12. Thought the community should know. She was not robbed. She got back on her bike and rode off. Two white males in t-shirts and jeans.”

I’m glad she was okay and not assaulted or robbed. It’s scary because I bike the Springwater all the time. I told myself I shouldn’t be worried because she was biking at night–something I never do–but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be more cautious when I’m out by myself.

Safety Tips

A lot of the safety tips are common sense things. For example, if you get a flat tire out on your bike, pull over somewhere that looks safe with people around and not a dark alley.  Biking at night is not for me. It’s not safe and I avoid it. Sometimes people can’t avoid riding at night because it’s their only form of transportation. Have a good, bright light on your bike and be safe!

The following are some more tips that I’ve been told or discovered along the way.

BIKE PUMP

Something that sticks with me in regards to cycling safety is a tip that Michael shared with me. He told me that we should have the lightest bike we can afford and the heaviest bike pump we can find. Why? Because a bike pump can be used as a weapon if need be. Every once in awhile, Michael reminds me to “always take your bike pump” on rides. Not just for flat tires, but self-defense. It’s a good trick and there have been a few times where I rode by some sketchy people on the Springwater and I was glad I had my bike pump just in case. Another reason: dogs. Luckily this hasn’t happened to me, but some cyclist friends have told me stories of dogs chasing them and trying to bite them. Bike pump.

SHOES

A few years ago I finally made the transition to clip-in cycling shoes. When I was shopping for them I knew I wanted mountain biking shoes. Sure they were heavier and bigger, but they were also shoes I could walk in. At the time, it was because I wanted to be able to walk in my cycling shoes in case I got a flat tire.

 

But shoes like these are also something I can RUN in if I need to. The other kind of cycling shoes are smooth and flat on the bottom and so slick I can barely walk, let alone run.

PEPPER SPRAY

I bought some runner’s pepper spray awhile ago and I have no idea why it didn’t occur to me to also carry it on my bike. Just in case.

Updated to add: If you work somewhere it might be an issue, be sure to talk to your boss about carrying pepper spray on you.

BE ALERT

The line of work I’m in makes me cynical, hyper aware at all times and suspicious of strangers on the street. Sad, but true. Because of this, I am always aware of what’s going on around me. I look around, I pay attention to people around me, I try not to listen to my headphones too loudly when I’m out walking or running.

SHARE

Tell people where you are biking and how long you expect to be gone. Same goes for all activities you do alone–hiking, running, etc. It’s just a good idea.

AVOID SKETCHY PEOPLE

Don’t ride near sketchy people. Easier said than done sometimes. There are parts of the Springwater Trail that are the places the Portland homeless camp. I’ve never had an issue with someone on the trail but you just never know.  I do my best to bike through these areas as fast as my legs will take me.

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It’s funny, I’ll bike on the Springwater trail alone, but I would never ever run there by myself. A lot of my friends feel the same way.

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My goal for this post was not to scare people or be super paranoid, but it’s something to think about. Practicing safe biking and running habits is always a good idea, even if the area you are in is safe.

QUESTION: What are your safety tips?

Ghost Town Ride

The warm weather streak is continuing in Portland and I got another opportunity to ride my bike to work. I prepared a little bit better this time. It had also been warm for about a week so I figured that arm warmers were all I needed instead of my cycling jacket. It was 52 degrees Tuesday morning, last week my morning commute was 48 degrees.

Michael kindly helped me with breakfast and pumped my tires for me! Queen treatment! It was really helpful because I was running a little late that morning. I set out a few minutes later than I wanted and for the first 1/2 mile regretted not wearing my jacket.

Luckily I warmed up as soon as I hit the first few hills of my commute. This particular commute I got stuck at two lights because there wasn’t enough traffic and the sensors couldn’t detect me on the bike. This is one of my pet peeves about commuting by bike.

I enjoyed my morning commute a great deal. Traffic was light. The weather was warm. My body was feeling really good. I just enjoyed it. I made my way through Sellwood and then picked up the Springwater. Unlike last time, the Springwater was enjoyable. I wasn’t biking into a wall of wind resistance.

The city seemed to be a ghost town. There was hardly any other cyclists out for some reason. The Springwater was nearly empty. The Esplanade loop downtown was eerily quiet. I made it downtown and headed to work.

Despite getting stuck at a few lights, I made it to work pretty quickly. Check out my stats for the morning:

Pretty good if you ask me! I’m happy with my time and average speed. I have a lot of stops before I get to the Springwater trail so I doubt I will ever be any faster than that.

Morning Stats:
Time: 53 minutes
Calories Burned: 540
Mileage: 11.71

You know what else? I’m already itching to start commuting twice a week. Unfortunately the weather forecast for next week looks like rain again so back to Spin I think.

Afternoon Commute

Another warm one! But it was a pleasant ride home. I’m really glad that the Morrison Bridge is open again because that’s how I prefer to go home. It’s a quicker route out of downtown and there’s barely anyone on the bridge but me. Shooosh, don’t tell any other cyclists out there.

Once I’m on the other side of the river, it’s easy sailing for the most part. The route I take to the Springwater is not the best one because the roads are just AWFUL. It’s a very bumpy ride.

The sun felt nice and there was a comfortable breeze on the way home. I made it to Sellwood in no time at all and headed home. My new route is pretty scenic; I pass by a few farms on the way home.

It’s funny because my route home is just a tad shorter than the morning. I guess going over the Steel Bridge in the morning adds more distance than I thought. I also burn less calories on the way home (which is also weird because I feel like it’s uphill on the way home). Here’s the afternoon graph:

Afternoon Stats:
Time: 46 minutes
Calories Burned: 479
Distance: 10.49 
Average Speed: 13.46 mph
Fastest Speed: 25.15 mph

Total Mileage for the Day: 22.2

I’m so happy that my first few commutes have been so great (knock on wood). I am considering adding a second day a week already. I don’t need time to recover and have felt great the day after.

Another bonus to commuting to work on my bike: it frees up my evenings for fun things. It’s amazing just how much time going to the gym takes and I just want to enjoy my free evenings.

QUESTION: How is your fitness changing with the season changes?