Bicycling is a great way to get to work and run errands. But it might be best to let the experts help you get started.
MY BICYCLE and my shed know each other well.
I moved to West Seattle last year, and other than the trip to the shed, my bicycle hadn’t seen daylight. I had a lot of excuses for not riding — I was intimidated by the hills of West Seattle; there’s a bridge between downtown and me; I don’t like riding in the rain.
Clearly, I needed help.
Anne King of Ridesavvy meets a lot of people like me. Many people would like to commute by bicycle to work, but everything from gear to finding the best route prevents them from doing it.
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She and her husband, Tim King, run Ridesavvy, a business that helps people figure out cycling logistics. Anne and Tim rely on bicycles as part of daily life, and I liked their functional approach.
I knew I could probably work out commuting on my own, but after watching Tim, a certified mechanic, tune up my bike, and following Anne on routes she researched, I have to say it’s easier to bring in experts.
A regular bike commute doesn’t work for me most days. Anne suggested other options, like riding to the grocery store. It was so obvious, and it had never occurred to me. The King County Water Taxi was a good alternative to the West Seattle Bridge, and she said we could figure out the route back from the water taxi for potential downtown trips. Sold.
Tim did a tuneup on my bike. They recommended fenders to prevent water from splashing up on my legs, and a rack to transport groceries. After Tim pumped up my tires and checked out a rattle in the front, he called my bike good to go.
Anne and I had a route — cruise to the water taxi, then ride to the grocery store. It sounded easy enough.
Before we set out, Anne went over rules of the road. Some I knew, like keep an eye out for parked cars and drivers opening doors. Others I was unclear on — it is legal to ride on sidewalks, though pedestrians have the right of way.
The ride to the water taxi was easy, with Anne pointing out potholes and other perils. At the water taxi, she showed me how to lock my bike properly.
For the ride back, rather than take the steepest hill, Anne chose a longer road with a gentler grade, or so she thought.
At first, things were fine. I set my gear to the lowest level. She told me my commuter bike with its multiple gears would probably beat her up the hill. We chatted a bit as we rode.
But as we kept going, I realized this might be hard. My legs were starting to tire out. We stopped talking.
Anne already had told me the two biggest challenges for cyclists in Seattle are hills and traffic. We had no traffic, but this hill was getting the best of me. She also told me there was no shame in walking.
For the last push, I decided to check my pride. I told Anne I was walking. We hopped off for the last portion of our hill.
We spotted the grocery store, then rode home.
Their help got me over the two biggest humps — bike safety and gear — and also motivation. I had forgotten my bike was a great way of getting around, especially in my neighborhood. I was happy to get support and guidance. I’m looking forward to mastering the ride to the grocery store, and perhaps taking on some bigger rides again.