- When not at work with students, I spend my time in my room either reading, calculating something using pen and paper, or using a computer. I read almost anything: from the pornographic to the profound, although my main interests are mathematics and physics. "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." -Erasmus
Saturday, November 27, 2010
my bike and I
I bought my first bicycle nearly four years ago while I was working as a call-center agent at Accenture. I got it at first because I was worried about fitness-- I used to jog every other day around the academic oval, and my job then meant being away from university.
My schedule shifted once in a while, but the usual time I worked then was from 11pm to 9 am. I was so tired afterward that I didn't have the energy to commute to uni to jog. I just went home to sleep. After months of having no exercise, I set aside some money to buy the bike.
It was an inexpensive mountain bike--PhP 2 K or approximately 50 dollars--no shock-absorbers (I later had the front-fork changed to one with them), and a very hard seat. I scheduled my bike rides either before going to work or right after I got home; I started with 15 minute bike rides, but gradually increased my mileage until I could bike for two hours without any distress.
I didn't have a helmet then. My rides were usually in Caloocan, just going around Grace Park. But I got ambitious after that, so I started going farther from home. My brother suggested getting a helmet when I planned to go to uni by bike, and I bought one, as well as bike lights. By then I was able to ride two hours straight, and I felt confident that I could go to uni by bike.
When I was first hired as an instructor, the bike came into its own. An instructor's first salary is usually delayed by around three months, and since I knew that I could go to school by bike, I bought plenty of shorts for my rides to and from work. I left my shoes and some clothes at my faculty room, and since the faculty restrooms had a shower stall, I took a shower before classes start.
A regular commute takes about an hour and a half; sometimes more if there's a traffic jam. The bike ride to school takes from 45 minutes to an hour. I was on the saddle for nearly two hours everyday. My training rides paid off here because I didn't feel tired after my bike rides. No muscle pains; I did sweat though, and the two hour long bike rides became the substitute for jogging.
Another bonus (aside from getting the exercise I wanted) was saving money. It costs about PhP 70 (or about a dollar and a half). So this meant I could save the money for food (my food expenses did rise!) and I didn't need to pay for gym membership. I sometimes wonder at people who pay for the privilege of riding a stationary bike when a real one is available. In fact, the money I saved then (around PhP 5K or 125 dollars) plus my 13th month pay was spent on my first laptop.
One of the first lessons a cyclist learns when he goes on longer rides is learning how to find a vulcanizing shop. When I first had a flat tire, I didn't know how to fix it. Once I was absent because I had a flat tire and there was no vulcanizing shop nearby; I learned how to replace tire interiors after that. I now bring a spare interior, a wrench, and tire levers so that I could fix a flat tire fast. I also bought books on cycling to learn about repairs and maintenance.
Over the years I've had repairs made. I've busted two handlebars, rear sprockets, and I've also damaged the rims of my bike. The only part of the bike that is still unchanged is the frame.
One of the things I'd like to do is to go to my hometown in Antique and back by bike. The Philippines is an archipelago, and there are ferries connecting various islands. I read about a priest who rode his bike from Luzon to Mindanao, and boarding a ferry when he needed to go from one island to another. One of the bike mechanics I know has traveled to Iloilo by bike and ferry.
I think I could handle a century (a 100 km ride) without problems. I've even gone from home to Antipolo; I met with friends at school and we rode our bikes to a friend's house in Antipolo and had steak. The uphill was tough but we managed to get to Antipolo, though we had to take rest-stops along the way. If I could get some friends to go with me, I'd like to go to Tagaytay by bike in the near-future.
My friends think it's eccentric to go to school by bike; at first they thought it was a way of dealing with the delayed salary, but now that I regularly get my salary, I don't need to worry about the fare. It's good that my school is tolerant, because I really like riding my bike. I even bought a second bike for shopping and another one for use in my hometown. My needs are taken care of: I go to school, eat out or shop. In fact, I bought my second computer (a netbook) by going to Gilmore avenue (just 30 minutes away) by bike.
I don't envy people who ride cars; I have them beat whenever there's a traffic jam. My commute time is invariant, even during a heavy downpour. (I do have a raincoat in case it rains. ) Where cars would struggle, I just pass them by. I might get a motorcycle later, but I think procrastination will keep it from happening in the near future. For now though, I will keep using my bike.