By Rebecca Friedberg, CTC member, and active CTC Board of Directors Contributer
Do you know what nursing school and triathlons have in common?
When I began nursing school in January, many people thought it was crazy that I decided to bike commute, especially in the winter. And now, I feel I've earned my peers' respect through my dedication to bike commuting. And three of my peers have even biked to school with me during spring, summer, and fall months.
My bike has become more central to my life since I use it for training, travel and now bike commuting. It has taken me across New York for my first solo bike camping trip. And now it's helping me progress in my nursing school program.
Of course, just having more time on the bike supplements my training. But what else have I learned that will help me as I train and eventually begin my season?
There are a few "skills" that I felt I had mastered before bike commuting and now are supercharged!
Like so many of us, we decide to balance training with our other commitments. Often, this means waking up early to squeeze in a workout in our pain cave or a quick lifting session during lunch.
Regularly, I do wake up early to workout. The twist for me, is that I'll bike to school or my clinical site after a workout. All this means, is making sure I have enough time between my workout and my commute to get ready for the day.
Frequently, people are doubtful that I can bike to school or my clinical site on time. However, most of the time I find myself to be one of the first people to arrive. I credit my general timeliness to bike commuting.
For example, if I need to be at the hospital at 630am, I know exactly how long it takes me to bike there, lock up, change into my scrubs, and walk to the unit. I do give myself extra time for my commute in case I get a flat or the weather isn't favorable.
Of course, I'm not perfect, and nursing school is tiring, so I'll sleep in some days and push my workout to another time.
As triathletes, we know how important it is to be organized since we have equipment for three different sports!
We keep our bags and cars as organized as we can during a busy training or racing week.
But bike commuters don't have the "luxury" of a car trunk to throw our things in at the end of a long day. We must fit what we need in a bag or basket on our bikes. And, if we forget something, it's not that easy to go back and get it!
Bike commuting has taught me to whittle down what I need for the day and pack my bag accordingly. Rarely, I'll bring another small bag if I need the extra room. Honestly, I don't want to carry more than I need to since I bike up two hills to get home.
Hopefully, our training has taught us to be patient with our bodies and trust that the process will get us not just to the start of a race, but also across the finish line.
My patience was stretched when I first started bike commuting, especially in the winter. I was so used to my lighter bike that riding a 90s Schwinn bike unclipped with a pannier strapped to it seemed so unbearably slow.
However, I had to accept that I will never fly down Euclid on this bike, and work with the bike's limitations.
Once I stopped comparing my commute to my training, I started to enjoy the ride. I'd find small things to make the commute more fun such as trying to "catch" another biker who was ahead of me. Or, admire the glow of a neighbor’s holiday light decorations as I coast by.
You Deal with Some Tough S***
As a club, we have our fair share of tough situations whether that be pushing through a challenging workout on the trainer or riding through a rainstorm.
So, what did I have to face commuting all year?
In the winter, I was met with snow-filled bike lanes, unfilled potholes, slick and icy roads, and some serious windchill. And the adventure didn't end when I got to school, as I had to find a bike rack that wasn't covered in snow.
In the spring, it was more pleasant, and I saw more bikers on the road. The potholes were slowly being filled. It was easier to get to school without the snowy bike lanes. But the cold rain was persistent and seemed to prolong spring.
In the summer and fall, the weather was nice and the worst I had to deal with were rainstorms, heat waves, and occasional lightning.
As winter rolls around again, I am reminded of the challenges I had to overcome to feel more confident about my decision to bike my way through nursing school.
What had all these challenges taught me this past year?
I don’t necessarily think it’s made me tougher, but I do feel more sure that I can handle challenges that come my way.
My hope is, as you reflect on your year, that you realize how much you’ve grown through the sport and lifestyle. You can look back, and say, “yes, it was daunting at first, but now I can handle the next thing that comes my way.”
I’m looking forward to hearing what’s around the corner for you as you reach and find new limits for yourself in the new year.
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