Cycle of Life
BIKING BARRIER: “I’ll freeze when the temperatures drop.”
IN-THE-SADDLE SOLUTION: With warm and waterproof clothes, you’ll stay plenty dry and toasty. Julie Osborn, a mom of two in Missoula, Mont., rides 2 1⁄2 miles to her job and bikes all over with her kids, as long as it’s above 20 degrees. “I have an extra helmet for winter months that’s big enough to fit a fleece hat underneath,” Osborn notes. “I dress my daughter, who’s 4, in more layers than I wear, since she’s not pedaling.” She often hauls her children in a bike trailer, and puts a hot water bottle inside, along with blankets, on frigid days. “It actually helps if you’re a little cold when you start riding,” adds Kenny. “If you’re comfortable when you walk out the door, you’ll usually be too warm once you get going.”
BIKING BARRIER: “I have too much stuff to carry.”
IN-THE-SADDLE SOLUTION: For groceries, a laptop, extra clothes and the like, a rear rack with baskets or panniers and/or a front basket will do the job. “I bought two lightweight vinyl panniers that hold 35 pounds each,” says Harcourt. “It’s amazing how much weight you can carry without feeling it.” For pint-sized human cargo, one option is pulling a trailer, as Osborn does. (Check out the Burley Bee, $279 at rei.com.) On routes that are too hilly to pull two kids, Osborn puts her daughter in a seat in front while she pulls her son behind. Another option for hauling kids or large loads is riding a cargo bike (see cargocycling.com for more information). Or, like Jessica Reeder of Reno, Nev., who sold her car, you can simply carry less stuff. “For groceries, I shop more carefully and more frequently,” she says. “Also, I started growing my own veggies in the backyard.”
BIKING BARRIER: “I’m just not that into cycling.”
IN-THE-SADDLE SOLUTION: You will be soon enough! Until then, borrow or rent a bike and start small. “Maybe the first place you go is your local coffee shop or library,” says Kenny. “I started with trips that were 3 miles, and then I’d ride to meetings 5 miles away, and then 7 miles started to seem like nothing.” Stiehl didn’t own a bike or even exercise before she began cycling 12 hilly miles to work in order to save money. “My first and second attempts to make it home, I called my kids for a pickup along the way,” she recalls. “On my third ride, I made it all the way and haven’t looked back.” In less than a year of commuting, Stiehl has dropped from a size 14 to a size 8. “My muscle tone is great and my legs are beautiful for a 49-year-old woman,” she says.
BIKING BARRIER: “I wouldn’t know what to do if a tire burst or I broke down.”
IN-THE-SADDLE SOLUTION: Buy a can of chain lube and a bike pump and ask the retailer for a quick how-to (or search YouTube for instructional videos). “If you can put gas in a car, you can lube a chain,” says Emilia Crotty, education operations director of the nonprofit Bike New York, which offers bike maintenance 101 classes. You can always take your bike in for a yearly tuneup, too. Learning to change a flat tire is a good idea, though flats are rare when you’re riding wide tires on city streets. If you’re a DIYer, you can learn how to maintain your own bike through a bicycle kitchen (Google “bike kitchen” and the name of your city and just see what comes up!). These low-cost, volunteer-based repair organizations teach novices how to maintain and repair their own bikes and have all the tools and parts you need.