The ¥1,000,000 Bicycle

Since the U.S. release of Pokémon GO last week, I’ve caught over 400 Pokémon (63 individual type seen/caught), won 42 battles, visited 362 PokéStops, and hatched 21 eggs.  Naturally, there are Pokémasters out there that have achieved far more than I, but for what it’s worth, that is a LOT of additional steps added into my usually sedentary gamer lifestyle.

Let’s talk about those PokéStops real quick: 362 locations visited. Many are duplicates or triplicates since I stop by them on my way to and from work, but most are unacquainted places. Memorial sites, public parks, and art pieces are all scattered throughout Lake County, Illinois.  The adventure is as educational as it is breathtaking.  Squirreling away to the safety of my office, I’ve only ever witnessed the beauty of nature through curtain-less windows (my backyard is a lovely forest preserve).  Instead of flipping open the Nintendo 3DS to play Pokémon, I travel all around the county in search of digital creatures.

In one week, I’ve journeyed nearly 50 kilometers! In your face, inactivity! For a fat gamer like me, that’s a promising achievement. I find myself eager for the next excursion, going so far as to fixing the bicycle that’s been hanging from the garage ceiling for the last two years.  I spent the early portion of a day preparing the bike for my next hunting trip.  The wheels are clean, everything is oiled, the chain is strong, the brakes still work, and air keeps the tires ready for any terrain!

I purchased a helmet, a water bottle, and backpack to contain my possessions and waited for better weather.  If there’s one thing I adamantly won’t do, it’s strain myself in extremely hot and humid weather. Unfortunately, Chicago’s been suffering through disgusting humidity, leaving me feeling incredibly anxious about following through with the little biking trip.  Thankfully, a storm was brewing overhead on Thursday.

Every Snorlax Eventually Stands Up

The day began with a trip to the endocrinologist’s office. Having left with great news regarding my health and a blessing from the physician concerning my newest weightloss adventure, I traveled to the mall for some adulting. Unfortunately, the mall wasn’t open, so instead of sitting in the car hoping Pokémon would approach, initiative was taken and I headed few blocks up the road to Big Bear Lake.

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Big Bear Lake, Vernon Hills, IL

The clouds overhead were puffy, a mix of white and grey, groaning under the weight of the incoming storm.  My lungs expanded to capacity with the smell of fresh, cool air.  The breeze from the water served as an open invitation.  Sandals and cargo shorts weren’t the greatest clothes for a walk, but there was no turning back. A Bulbasaur was nearby and I needed to catch it!

There were several kids riding bikes trying to hit every PokéStop they could; others left lures at benches that served as fantastic rest stops for people inexperienced with exercise (aka me).  I could not ask for a more perfect day.  My short legs managed to carry me 5k with little strain on my body, a feat that left me pleasantly surprised. If I can walk 5k without issue, why did I never attempt to do so before? The little excursion to Big Bear Lake was the perfect motivator to get on that bike!

With my adulting obligations soon completed for the day, I scurried home to change. Gym shorts, an old t-shirt, and comfortable “running” sneakers that have never once actually been used for running (baby steps, yo, baby steps!). I was ready to go, my bag packed, ice cold water at the ready but the sky could no longer bear the weight of rain. It began pouring out and for the next two hours I busied myself with school work hoping the rain would cease.

Thankfully, there was a break! Without hesitation, I was on my bike and kickin’ it into high gear down the path.  It was a bit more humid than my liking, IMG_5895but I wasn’t going to stop.  Although, to be honest, I did. Several times. Walking is one thing, but biking? It wasn’t so much as exhausting as it was painful. My knee was screaming, crying out from a searing pain; I’d only recently recovered from a dislocated patella.  My spirit was ready to go at least 5 miles, but there was no way my knee could handle it.  After a mile peddled, I was forced to return home.

What remained all the more frustrating besides the sense of defeat I felt was the fact that the tracking system in the Pokémon GO app barely registered that I’d traveled anywhere on bike! There were zero PokéStops along the route, a handful of Weedles, Pidgeys and Rattatas, and none of my eggs hatched.  The game crashed multiple times during the short trip!

Overall, despite the glitches with the app, the day was incredibly successful. Over 6km traveled by combination of foot and bike, 3 fantastic new Pokémon caught, a few new PokéStops visited, and one long stride closer to evolving my Snorlax body into a Machamp!