Sweating and huffing on my bicycle near the Fairmont Avenue bridge, about four miles into my ride, the mosquitoes attacked.
“Gaaghh,” I yelped, clawing the little bloodsuckers off my neck and arms. “Get off!”
The road runs next to the Los Angeles Ditch — er, river — a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes. I suspect the sunblock and exposed skin attracted them as well.
Fortunately for the reputation of our local motorists, the bugs are the worst hazards I face on my bicycle commute. Perhaps we’ve been shamed into politeness by the recent Allstate report showing that Glendale drivers are among the worst in the state. I hope so, especially since I’m now protected only by a helmet and my wits.
The two-wheeled commute is a revisiting of an experiment I made about two years ago — riding to work via pedal power. The route I take from my home in Burbank to our Glendale offices is about six miles. It’s mostly flat, but for that hump by that bridge. I never thought such a small grade would hurt so much. Perhaps I’m a bit out of shape.
I’m doing this for a few reasons. First, I want to prove to myself I can actually do it. It’s a challenge. I like those.
Second, it’s good for my blood pressure and mental health. It’s really helpful to be able to work out the stresses of the day on the bike pedals, and to get my brain sharp before work without drinking a gallon of coffee.
I recently read that adults should exercise in short bursts. That is, exercising 15 minutes every day is better than exercising for an hour twice a week. My commute takes between 30 and 45 minutes each way, depending how much sleep I got the night before. I’ve been biking to work an average of three times a week. Any way you slice it, I’m getting a lot more exercise than I had been before.
I’ve tried numerous exercise regimens, none of which seemed to work out all that well. A friend of mine, a paramedic, tried me to get me onto her workout plan. By day two at the 24-Hour Fitness, I felt, well, awful. “No pain, no pain” is usually my motto.
Deeply embarrassed that my female friend could deadlift (or any 'lift,' frankly) more than me, I bid the sweaty gym adieu.
Next was Bikram Yoga, a 90-minute torture session filled with bending and stretching my less-than-flexible self in 105-degree room. This seemed convenient, at least at first, because there is a studio next door to the offices that house the La Cañada Valley Sun and Pasadena Sun.
I did go for a while, and I have to admit, it did seem to work. I became stronger, more flexible, and my stress seemed to greatly decrease. In addition, the voluminous sweating that comes as part of one’s yoga practice seems to be pretty good for the skin.
But the time! There really is no easy way to squeeze a 90-minute exercise session — not to mention the time it takes to get there, change, get back, etc. — in a normal day. Life is packed, you know? And no one, least of all me, voluntarily wants a 10-hour day turned into a 14-hour one. If that, my friends, is eating my vegetables, I’ll stick to dessert. The sessions are really not cheap, either.
So, biking seems like the way to go for now. Instead of spending money for a gym or spending time in hot room that smells of feet, I now save money on gas. Instead of being able to talk myself out of going to the gym after work, I’m now forced to exercise — how else will I get home?
Here’s to bicycling!
DAN EVANS is the editor. Reach him at (818) 637-3234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.