Background information about Rachel is that she uses her bicycle for transportation to her job at A.T. Still University as a Research Assistant Professor She does biomedical research and her current research program is the prevention of osteoarthritis. In her spare time, in addition to enjoying cycling she writes a blog for the Kirksville Daily Express' online publication and occasionally in their print edition also.
Here is a transcript of the article from the Kirksville Daily Express and a link to this article;
My early days of bicyclingby Rachel Ruhlen
In 2005, the first year I almost exclusively bicycled for transportation, I found myself riding home in the dark more than once. That didn't bother me, except for one street that was narrow, bordered on both sides by steep drop-offs of 100 feet or more with intermittent guard rails, and completely unlit.
In those early days, I biked on the sidewalk because I thought that’s where you were supposed to ride a bike. It snowed the week of Thanksgiving and I navigated the slushy roads and sidewalks until I got to that very dark stretch. I was scared that I might slip on the slush and fall off the precipice into the creek far below, so I took to the street.
That weekend a drunk driver lost control, drove over the sidewalk, crashed through the flimsy rail, flew over the precipice, and collided with a tree. Between the broken rail and the memorial flowers stapled to the tree I was even more scared to bike that segment in the dark. So I got my first set of bike lights.
I thought the lights were entirely inadequate because they failed to light up the street sufficiently for me to see. That’s when I learned that the most important purpose of bike lights is not for me to see the street, but to make me visible to other vehicles.
It’s hard to believe now that I was once so stupid as to ride in the dark without lights, and that I thought lights were only necessary if I couldn't see my path. It’s good to tell this story, and remind everyone that when it comes to bicycles, nearly everyone is inexperienced. We make mistakes. Bicyclists ride on sidewalks and without lights because they don’t know better. Motorists make mistakes like right hooks and left hooks and insufficient passing distance because they don’t know better. We become experienced, and we learn how to bike with traffic and how to drive around bicycles.
With experience, I learned about bike lights and sidewalks and assertive lane position, and then I took Traffic Skills 101 which confirmed what I’d learned and taught me much more. As more people bicycle, motorists and bicyclists will gain experience. I was lucky, and learned my lessons without injury. I hope my articles will help many bicyclists and motorists learn these same lessons without injury.
"My bicycle is our second car. I love to bicycle in all weather, for all distances, and on all routes. Bicycling has brought so much joy to my life, and I want to share it with anyone who is interested. I will use my soapbox to tell you about the joys, the freedom, the benefits, and, yes, the challenges of bicycling and walking for transportation." Rachel Ruhlen
I'm inviting readers to share their first experiences and being new to bicycling. What was it like for you?
For me I learned right off that yes you never forget how to ride a bike but after years of absence it doesn't mean that you pick right back up from where you left off. Years of being away affected my balance and handling skills. It came back quickly but not before a few tumbles and close encounters. What came back immediately was the joy and freedom that riding a bike gives you. That and an ear to ear grin. The way I help to keep it fresh is by always looking for new trails and places to explore.
Whether you have just recently learned to ride a bike or if you made your way back to bicycling after and absence, what was it like for you? What things did you learn right off? What do you do to capture that feeling of exhilaration that we all get from our fist encounters with bicycling?