Saturday, September 16, 2006

giving exercise a run for its money, or: becoming the toned, coordinated biker i never wanted to be

so i'm finally getting around to writing about this little thing we call my bicycle. my flat tire situation has been remedied, and i have my original green bike back. this is good because it's not as rusted as EVERYone else's bike, so it's easier for an unseasoned rider to make it up those barely visible inclines without standing up for more leverage. i always pretend i've just stopped at the store after a 20 mile ride instead of arriving sweaty and winded from my house six blocks away. not only am i unfamiliar with bicycle etiquette in japan, but there is the added excitement of expecting traffic from the opposite direction than it actually comes. a few times i've found myself headed straight for a car headed straight for me because i am on the wrong side of the road. slowly i'm getting used to riding on the left and avoiding old ladies on the narrow sidewalks (riding on the sidewalks is encouraged because it's a common practice in japan to wildly, but courteously, veer into the opposite lane to go around stopped trucks or whatever, and bicyclists in the street are pretty much in constant peril). day by day, my form improves. when i began, i was humiliating all of america with my lack of coordination. i would stiffen when riding through a tight spot of people or potted plants or pet store cages and then my laden front basket would wobble dramatically and i'd lose my footing on a pedal as i tried to get going again and...not exactly the way to win friends and influence people. but necessity is good for something, so i'm navigating better and getting something resembling muscles in my legs. this is all great. BUT. i admit it may not have dawned on me that i would not only have to find creative ways of carrying bulky, heavy objects home from the store but i would also have to do it in winter when it's cold and dark at 4:30. oh yeah! i don't have a car. this doesn't really phase me (i've been cold plenty in my life), but i know i will complain about it later. (just you wait)
here's my one-speed wonder:

i was under the impression that being forced to ride myself to the store every time i want food, batteries, or toilet paper might cause me to get in shape or something ridiculous like that. guess again. this is japan! they like it fried! they put mayo on everything! i'm illiterate and can't tell what's low fat! plus i've discovered a new treat. this comes from my love of eating ice and my love of making the ice taste better by adding something to it. it's called Chocolate Ice, or How to Get Fat Without Trying:

just ice cubes with hot chocolate powder sprinkled over them. yay! it's hot chocolate for summer!
oh yeah, and one more thing. i've been making all these tasty things to remind me of home (namely cookie dough, french toast, and pancakes) and they may also be combatting the healthful aspects of bicycle riding.


  1. well, that french/japanese toast looks good enough to serve me for breakfast--i'll be right over!
    love you

  2. great! i'll see you when you get here. but it might be cold and decomposed by then.

  3. Funny, I've been riding my bike, which I bought in May, ALL summer and have been gaining weight the whole time. And not the good "dense muscle" kind of weight, but the kind that hangs off of my midsection like a tired nephew who wants to be carried through the amusement park. Probably because after a long bike ride I find myself hankerin' for a big, juicy hamburger. (Waiting for the giant spiders...)

  4. hahahah! you're funny. yeah, i always have quite an appetite after i've exercised. i used to run and then i felt justified going to dairy i stopped running. after i've gone for a long walk, i still don't feel dairy queen worthy, so it's a better option. :)

  5. That is a sweet ride Lauren. By the time you back to the states, you should be ready for Iron Horse.

  6. we'll see about that, fred, but i did have some happy bonding time with one of my teachers who's passionate about bicycling when i started waxing poetic about durango cyclers. he's younger than me and two years ago raced cyclocross in portland.