Newsletter: Two Secret Ingredients

I dropped my kid off at school yesterday and ended up towing the trailer across town to work and later to run an errand downton. On my way home up the Met Branch Trail, hauling the trailer and a hefty load of camera gear in my panniers, watching riders on the new Capital Bikeshare ebikes zip past me, I found myself briefly wishing for some of that sweet, sweet electric assist. But I took a moment to pay attention to how my bike felt, and how my body felt on the bike. I wasn’t going very fast, but despite the trailer and the heavy load, I felt like I could ride all day.

I mulled over why that was—I’m not an athletic person, and my 40 year-old mountain bike with a kid trailer is not efficient by any measure.  

It dawned on me that (for me), the two key ingredients for a happy bike ride, whether I’m out for fun or hauling groceries, are a comfortable bike and space to ride slowly

My bike is old and a bit of a clunker, but I’ve got big squishy tires, wide swooshy handlebars that work for my hands and shoulders, and an ancient leather saddle that’s thoroughly molded to fit me. There’s a longer rant here about all the ways capitalism makes it difficult to find a comfortable bike that fits you, but I’ll skip that for today. If your bike isn’t comfortable, just try stuff! Saddles and handlebars can be cheap, and finding the right one can be downright revelatory.

Physical comfort on the bike is only half the story, though. Bike lanes, trails, and quiet roads are spaces where you can putter along without pushing yourself in ways that will hurt later. For me, it’s hard not to try to hustle on busy streets when I’m sharing space with impatient, distracted drivers.

All this is to say: e-bikes are great, but don’t underestimate what you can accomplish with an old clunker and a good bike lane network. 

Things to do:

Speak up for the Connecticut Avenue Protected Bike Lane.

If you live in Virginia, go vote!

Go check out the new Capital Bikeshare Station at Arlington National Cemetery!

If you live in Montgomery County, speak up for the Little Falls Linear Park

And come meet up with other MoCo Advocates on May 10th.

Tell your friends to sign up for Bike to Work Day

And don’t miss the E-bike showcase on May 20th!

A fun route for the weekend:

Weather’s looking lovely tomorrow, so why not explore the streets and trails of Northern Virginia on the Bike How You Like Ride.