Every Tuesday and Thursday I ride my bike all the way to school in Kobe. It’s a much better way to get to school than riding my bike to the train station, parking illegally since there literally is no other way, waiting between all the smokers on the platform, fighting for a spot to stand on the train, and doing it all over for the next one. I don’t like the atmosphere of the underground subway station in Kobe, and unfortunately the 15 minute coffee break I plan into my commute doesn’t even help. In fact, the smell of its overpriced coffee and cheese toast now makes me uncomfortable when I walk by. Commuting this way was bearable: it only took about 45 minutes, or an hour with the coffee break in between, and I could read a book or listen to a podcast or even browse the internet on my phone. But it was still generally unpleasant.
So far, with 2 weeks in, the bike is so much better. It only takes me an hour and ten minutes, I save the train fare and the overpriced breakfast, and I actually enjoy it. That means that I don’t lie in bed for half an hour dreading the commute, which in turn means that I get to work even faster. The weather is nice right now. I haven’t yet ridden in the rain and I don’t know if I would. I don’t know how cold it’ll need to be for me to opt for the train, but I have months to decide. I wear shorts and a T-shirt and white socks, and I pack my work outfit into my bag with the rest of my stuff. I bring a couple of bottles of water, which I keep at the top of my bag, which I swing around the front when I’m at a long red light. I’d like to find a water bottle cage for my frame. When I get to school I stop at the Lawson’s and buy a Calorie Mate (a Japanese health biscuit, which I’ll blog about sooner or later) and a bottle of vitamin water, which I’m not sure I need. I park my bike in the back, and change in the locker room outside of the staffroom. I really want to try the shower in a bottle I heard about on the internet. Maybe I can get my mom to mail me a bottle…
I just bought a little bike computer, which attaches to my fork and my bar stem, and is supposed to measure basic stuff like speed and distance and time. I’ve had the stupid cute thing for 2 weeks and I can’t get it to work. No one on the internet has complained about it being impossible to get right, so I must be doing something wrong, but I don’t know what it is. Until I go to a shop and humiliate myself I’ll just have to estimate my distance and roughly remember my time and I’ll never know my speed. I know that in the 3 months or so that I’ve been riding, I’ve gotten faster! Maybe I’m just more comfortable riding through the heavy traffic in the city, but I used to get to Sannomiya in an hour and ten minutes. Today I got there in only 50 minutes! Nobody’s racing here but I’m still stoked. The ride between Sannomiya and my school is only 15 minutes. This means I can ride into Sannomiya for lunch!! This really changes my day. I used to be confined to the few restaurants around Nagata subway station: Mister Donut, a couple lame cafes for old people, McDonald’s, and a curry joint whose display case warded me off every time. It took me 10 minutes to walk all the way down to that station anyway so suffice to say my break time in the middle of the day is on a whole new planet.
Did I mention that it’s a fixed gear bicycle? This makes it a pretty good workout because I’m peddling the entire way. There are only a few hills, thankfully. I’m looking forward to developing huge handsome legs. I’m also practicing my “track stands” whenever I can and I think I’m getting better at it. And no, I don’t ride without brakes (yet?)