Life Lessons while Cycling in Berkeley

Cycling around the Berkeley area is AH-mazing!  To say the least.  I can easily climb a few thousand feet just riding from the house, and the cars here are so nice to cyclists.  I guess my cycling mojo is back.  After a gray/rainy winter I am feeling spring and have been enjoying every moment of bike rides here.  There are so many untapped routes just waiting for me to explore.

Today I rode a little over 25 miles on the Berkeley to Orinda Happy Valley route, from my house to Orinda and back.  I felt guilty leaving the boys at first, but after a little time on the road I was back to my happy place and knew it was the right thing to do.  Getting out always lifts my mood and makes me feel alive. 



David and Nathan went to a park on the Bay while I rode, then we swapped at lunch and David headed out for the same loop while Nathan and I napped.  Nathan loves bikes and was happy to see “mamma’s bike” when I got back and to try on the “bike hat”.  We are getting a seat for him so we can do easy rides together soon. 


Once David returned, it was fun to swap stories about the hilly route once he got back.  I am still pinching myself that we get to live here, and I just love that biking is a hobby that (apart from maintaining my bike) is pretty much free.

Last weekend wasn’t quite so seamless; I broke my chain on a ride and would have been very stranded had a nice stranger, Robert, not stopped to help me.  I was headed home in the Tilden Park area (no cell phone service) and took a wrong turn.  After some steep downhill, I knew I was on the wrong route and would have a really hilly climb out of the park if I didn’t turn around.  I took a sharp turn and despite being in low gears, when I turned back up the hill my chain fell off, or so I thought.  It actually snapped off completely!  I saw it in the road behind me and my heart dropped.  Luckily, Robert was cycling up the hill and asked me if I had the right tool.  Of course I didn’t, and though I can fix flats and minor mechanical items on the road, I had never dealt with a broken chain so I wouldn’t have known how to use the chain even if I did.  Robert was very kind and helped me through the process, making sure I was learning as I went.  We made a few mistakes along the way (Campy chains are a bit of a pain), and several times I mentioned that I should just walk up the hill to get cell service and call my husband.  It was my inner child coming out and I wanted to give up.  Robert said “what do you have to lose?  You try and fail and have to walk up, but if you succeed and get to ride home you will feel so accomplished! …but you need to go shopping for a chain tool”.  After 30 minutes we finally got the [much shorter] chain on.   I thanked Robert profusely, and of course he charged off ahead of me.  It sounds silly, but such a simple act of kindness and the positive mindset were a huge impact for me.  I can be very hard-headed, sometimes emotional, and if I don’t get something immediately, just ready to give up.  This reminded me to have a little patience and that it’s okay to fail; just try again and be willing to be a beginner.

I felt proud to get home, and  that week I added a chain tool to my bike saddle and switched to a KMC chain.  And now I have another tool in my mental pocket – the reminder that if at first you don’t succeed to try, try, try again.  The celebration will be even sweeter!




Do you find yourself struggling with failure at times? Have you ever fixed a broken chain on the road?

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