Have you ever watched a child ride a bike? It is pure joy. It’s pure freedom. It’s as if they are saying “Wow. Look at me go. I can take myself anywhere. What fun!” with every ounce of their beings. They ride as fast as they can and skid to a stop. Do they ever pause to say, “Wait. I’m going to get sweaty” or “How far is it? I’m not sure I can make it.” They just go.
I wanted to follow up Chuck’s last blog post about Biking with my own take on the subject. Unlike Chuck, I am not a year-round biker. I can’t haul anything. However, when the temperature is above 45 degrees and it’s not storming, I generally will ride my bike wherever possible. And this is my story…
A few details that have enabled my transition to bike enthusiast are worth mentioning. First, I switched from mountain bike to city bike (after living no where near a mountain for a mere 8 years, it was time to make the switch). I now have an awesome city bike. It’s a Civia Loring – very comfy, very sturdy, upright city bike with bamboo trim and basket. I literally get stopped by bike messengers and casual bike riders alike to compliment me. But, my greatest enabler is the folding bike lock by ABUS. It is so versatile, so sturdy, so compact that I can lock my bike anywhere without worry. You really have to see it to understand how cool this lock is. It is smart design at it’s finest and makes getting in and out very quick and easy. It was a hefty investment at $75, which took A LOT of convincing but so so so worth it!
So, my initial motivations for biking were probably obvious – less gas consumed, less carbon put into our air, less supporting big fat oil companies, less dependence on foreign oil sources. I share Chuck’s loathing of driving, but have previously favored public transportation to avoid driving. But, riding your bike and taking the 72 Westbound are just nothing alike.
When did I forget that exuberance and that empowerment of riding my bike that was so obvious as a kid? When did I get so bogged down with getting there fast and in pristine condition? When Chuck and I lived in the Bay Area we used to mountain bike a lot, but for some reason, I never associated that kind of experience with commuting. When did I lose site of the fact that the journey is as important as the destination?
Then, I just started doing it. I started to ride my bike to work, I rode my bike to errands, I went to doctor appointments on my bike. Whoa! How come nobody ever told me how exhilarating that would be? Or maybe they did. I really can ride anywhere pretty easily. So much less hassle than driving. I feel the elements around me. I let my thoughts wander, not compelled to put on NPR or check my iPhone. I just go. I don’t worry about parking or bus trackers, and it costs me nothing. I may wind up a little worse for the wear (can anyone say helmet head?), but really I’m pretty low maintenance anyways, so I can’t imagine it makes a bit of difference. It takes me longer… sometimes. But, really, can I not find an extra 15 minutes from somewhere else in my day? You make time for things that are important to you. And I challenge anyone to ride their bike for a week and not have a burning desire to find the time. I know it has changed my outlook on going. It doesn’t have to be such a grind…
“Wow. Look at me go. I can take myself anywhere. What fun!”