Putting Your Bike Skills To Good Use Off The Bike

Written by Boston Biker on Jul 15

I have found that the skill set you develop with a lot of urban riding comes in handy in many other situations.

Walking:
I used to cross the street like all the other people crossed the street. That is when the guy in front of me went, I would stare at my toes and blindly walk out behind him. Now I cross the street like a biker. I keep my head up, I look both ways (and not just on the curb, I continue to scan as I cross), and I only go when I am ready, not when the herd is ready. This practice saved my life just a couple days ago, a lady ran a stop sign, and turned right into the crosswalk I was already 2/3rds across. Lucky for me I was ready for her, as she passed I screamed “watch out!” into her open window. She was terrified, my heart rate never climbed above its normal rate.

Driving:
Driving a car is a nightmare, but once in a while you have to. I have found that when I drive I am much more aware of my surrounding now. I even find myself looking over my left and right shoulder instead of using the mirrors (force of habit I guess). But the main benefit I gain from my biker skills is I know about how fast I need to go to get to the lights on time. I know when I am going to get stuck at a whole bunch of reds, and I relax and enjoy the radio. Now if everyone else out there could ride a bit more car traffic might improve. One bad thing about riding a bike is that I feel totally comfortable being about a foot away from cars…something other drivers often seem to think is dangerous when I am in a car. I guess when you are in a car its not ok to get really close to other car drivers, but totally ok to get really close to bikers.

Patience:
I have found that I have a lot more patience after years of riding my bike. I am not always in such a rush to get everything done RIGHT NOW! I think riding a bike has allowed me to experience life at a much more sane speed, and this has seeped into my daily life.

Stair Climbing:
I used to hate going up stairs, now its just like climbing a big hill.

Weather:
Being a year round bicycle commuter gives you a whole new ruler to measure weather by. Only -10 degrees, at least it isn’t sleeting! The amount of crap I have scraped off myself over the years on my bike has made “bad weather” a very relative term. Sure people look at you like you are crazy for riding in the snow/rain/sleet/slush/etc but you get a whole new sense for what your body can do, and what it can survive. I have also found out that I appreciate good weather much more. Its a truly wonderful thing to be riding on that first nice warm day of spring, with the breeze in your face…it should be a crime to experience that joy any other way than on bike.

These are just a couple of the areas of my life in which biker skills have been useful. How about you, anything you learned on a bike turn out to be useful in other areas? Do tell.


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4 Responses to “Putting Your Bike Skills To Good Use Off The Bike”

  1. By matt on Jul 15, 2010 | Reply

    Driving a car is not a nightmare. Lose the anti-motorist rhetoric already.

  2. By Erik on Jul 15, 2010 | Reply

    - Conscious use of peripheral vision. On the bike, without mirrors, you often have to simultaneously keep track of cars on your left, bikers in front, pedestrians, doors, etc. It’s really made me get used to consciously “watching” things with my peripheral vision without having to look directly at them.

    - Balance. Going slow and stopping all the time gives you lots of balance practice. I could always balance on one foot, but now I find it’s also easy to do stuff (put on and tie shoes, eg) while balanced on one foot.

    +1 on weather. “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing” is now something I believe.

  3. By 100psi on Jul 15, 2010 | Reply

    last time i drove, i unconsciously used a hand signal while making a turn. which i suppose is the opposite of putting bike skills to use off the bike.

    but yeah, i agree. especially gaining a new appreciation for patience. one can’t control the flow and speed of traffic, no matter how loud your horn.

  4. By Phoebe on Jul 20, 2010 | Reply

    Patience is a big one! I always thought I was an uncommonly patient person, and then I started bike commuting. Now I realize that I’m a recovering impatient -at least for somethings. :^)

    Great post with many good points. Thanks!
    Phoebe

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