Due to some monetary issues this month I found myself bike-commuting to work in earnest.  I figured that I just hiked the Grand Canyon, biking shouldn’t be any problem at all.  Right?

Well… it’s a little different.  The muscles I already had were all wrong, for one thing.  For another, hills are a little harder while on a bicycle.  And then there’s the ever-terrifying issue of traffic.

But all in all it’s going well, even if I can’t quite power through the hills all the time just yet.  It’s even faster than taking the bus!  These last two weeks having been a learning experience, not just with bikes in particular but also with sharing the road and traffic in general.  But because not everyone wants to spend their mornings in funny outfits racing down hills I’m going to share some of my hard-won knowledge with the rest of you.  Here are ten things I learned while riding my bike to work. 

1. Bike shorts may look silly, but there’s a reason people wear them.  Their padding will quite literally save your ass.  

Even if they do look very very silly.

2. Even if you obey all the rules of the road it doesn’t matter.  Cars will pretend that you don’t exist at all rather than treat you like a vehicle.

Even when they’re parked cars don’t notice you

3. Hills in Seattle are both awesome and horrible. Which one is mostly determined by which side you’re on. They’re also much steeper than you think they are when you’re walking or in a car.

A certain amount of cheering is in order at the top of certain hills.  Don’t look at me like that.

4. Right of way goes to whoever is pedaling the fastest.

Or if they just seem, you know, more skilled.

5. If I’m powering up a hill and you cause me to stop unexpectedly for ANY reason my rage will burn a hole in the base of your spine.  Or, it would, if I didn’t need to focus my energy on getting up a hill from a dead stop.

I don’t care how badly you need to cross the street.  For the love of god DON’T DO IT IN FRONT OF ME.

6. Don’t get mad at the bicyclist in front of your car slowing you down.  Even odds say that they are absolutely terrified to have you on their tail.

This is always on my mind. Always.

7. Sometimes bike lanes end unexpectedly.  Be prepared.


8. Headwinds are almost worse than hills. 

9. Cars should always use turn signals.  Just because you don’t see another vehicle doesn’t mean there isn’t a bicyclist or pedestrian hanging back, unsure of what they’re doing.

Although some cyclists can’t see your signals anyway.

10. If someone is walking their bike up a hill, do not make eye contact.  They are likely in the midst of a cone of shame.  Please pretend they don’t exist.

Of course this doesn’t address all the wonderful things about riding bikes, like having the freedom to wander about or the wind rushing through your hair because, quite frankly, everyone already knows about that.

*Other suggestions from the Peanut gallery:

“You need to add: f*** your hairdo, wear a helmet. Your hair style won’t look very good when it and the remains of your skull are smeared across the pavement.”

Alternatively, you could hide your helmet inside your hair.