When I returned to Wisconsin, I found winter had come back, but for real this time. As soon as I got back to work my coworkers helped me find the right set of fenders for my bike and we discovered something very important about my bike; I doesn’t want fenders. Turns out, my vintage Italian bicycle doesn’t have the threaded holes where fenders and racks are attached. It also turns out; my bicycle doesn’t have a lot of what I need. After spending an evening fighting with my “biciletta” I finally got the rear fender rigged into place.
Riding in the snow for the first time was terrifying. Maybe it wasn’t the snow so much as the ice/moisture beneath the snow. This made for a super slippery slush that one co-worker likened to riding through warm peanut butter. As I trudged through the slush I noticed bike tracks from other riders and from the looks of it, much better cyclists than myself. Interestingly I felt a lot of encouragement seeing the tracks of the riders before me.
Even though I am new to the biking community, I hardly know any cyclists’ outside of the 9-member team at Planet Bike, I felt a comradery seeing those tire tracks. Someone else was out here riding and sliding with me and it was a reminder that I wasn’t alone. For nearly an hour, of what is normally a 35-minute ride, I managed to avoid falling until I collapsed on the floor at Planet Bike with just enough energy to give an “all’s well” thumbs up. Making it through that ride felt good, sharing wild ride stories with coworkers felt good, seeing the track of fellow commuters felt good and maybe I could really be a winter rider! Then I broke my butt.
Winter isn’t just tricky for riding a bike. Roads is tricky, shoveling is tricky, falling on an ice patch is tricky, moving your entire bedroom set in winter is tricky and all of these things I was doing with a lingering injury from when I busted my foot on that stupid nail! My SI joint (sacroiliac joint, were your sacrum and pelvis meet) took a beating when I was hoping around crutches while my foot was healing. One day I was out shoveling; I moved wrong and BAM, I was down, I couldn’t get up. The weeks of winter and misuse caught up to me and I had to rest and do stabilizing exercises for a few weeks.
One cold morning I left the bike path to cross over a residential street, that to my surprise, was covered in black ice. One moment I was vertical, the next I was horizontal. My left hip and elbow took the brunt of the fall and I’m pretty sure my head bounced. My helmet had a nice scuff mark and a few days later I noticed a bruise on that side of my head. ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET! ALWAYS! Don’t make me use my mom voice!
That crash put me back in rest mode for a few days. Remember that saying I talked about, that says if you are on the right oath the universe will do everything to help you… well the universe gave me a sign! I was lamenting to some friends about my frustration with my bicycle, and one of them mentioned having an old road bike that might fit me.
They said this to me very casually and I was very grateful but wasn’t expecting it when they showed up at my house a few days later with a Specialized Dolce Sport! I almost fell again! She’s a beaut and fits like a dream and even my 4-year-old can lift the super lite aluminum frame. This wasn’t just a good sign; this was a game changer. Since starting this wild journey of becoming a bike commuter I’ve enjoyed being on the bike, now, I love it. I now feel like my bike is working with me and I am enjoying my commute. As long I can stay upright, I might just make it through the rest of winter!
Stay tuned to find out how the next chapter of this crazy bike commuting journey turns out!