Last week’s post about buying a female bike seat was a little more provocative than usual for me.
I meant every word, and was pleased by all the comments readers offered on their thoughts about colour-coding and gender stereotypes.
But I was angry when I wrote that post, and anger isn’t an emotion I’m used to associating with biking.
Because I love it. I love it for being green, fast, cheap, and good for me. Although not necessarily in that order.
I often tell people that unemployment and its resultant frugality made me a cyclist back in 2006, but impatience kept me doing it, and the environmental benefits are just one of several other bonuses that have made biking an important part of my life.
The cure for impatience
But I can be impatient.
I’ve really tamped down my eye-rolling, finger-drumming, sighing, and sarcasm over the years, but as someone who’s naturally efficient, decisive, scheduled, and organized, I turn into a veritable Mount St. Helens inside when forced to deal with people and situations that aren’t.
Like the morning commute, for example.
And it’s only 4 kilometers.
The beauty of biking to work is that the moment I wheel my bike outside and hop on, I’m instantly getting somewhere.
If I don’t bike, I have to take first a bus and then the Skytrain. But where I live, it takes 5-7 minutes just to walk to the bus stop. Wasted time! I could ride a whole kilometer in that span.
Add in the fact that buses must contend with traffic, roadwork, are often too full for additional passengers, and generally stop at EVERY SINGLE STOP, it’s actually faster for me to ride to work than transit.
Even in the rain, despite the extra time it takes me to suit up in my cycling rain gear.
The cure for indecision
I’m decisive by nature, except when I’m not, and biking is a big help during those times.
I can be hell on two wheels** when I have to get somewhere in a hurry. But when I’ve got the time, I like to take it and contemplate life.
Be it a personal problem, a challenge at work, or difficulty with the latest scene in my novel-in-progress, more often than not, my bike is where all these issues get resolved.
I’ve been bike commuting for so long now (seven years), it’s become like walking for me. That is to say, I don’t think about it while I’m doing it, for my bike has become an extension of my body. I just jump on and away I go.
A lot of my various thought puzzles are solved in my subconscious, where they’ve all along been running in the background as I consciously attend to my daily obligations. Biking enables my conscious and subconscious to meet and shake hands, granting my conscious the time and access to discover what lies beneath, and to turn these dreamy ideas into reality.
The cure for insomnia
Speaking of dreams, not only does biking reveal my figurative dreams, it does my literal ones as well.
I have all the makings of a textbook insomniac: impatient; hyper-controlling of both myself and my surroundings; difficulty stilling my thoughts, always instead trying to work out some puzzle, or scheduling problem, or to remember something long forgotten.
Yet I sleep like one whose conscience is untouched by guilt and sin. This is because I’ve discovered how important physical activity is in helping me get a good night’s rest.
When I was younger and much less active, it used to take me HOURS to fall asleep, not to mention the stress from worrying each night that it would take me hours to fall asleep.
When I started working out, this problem disappeared.
I ride a minimum of 8 kilometers a day to and from work, which takes about 45 minutes (20 going and 25 to return since it’s more hilly). Biking has become an important part of my total exercise regime that allows me to sleep soundly every night through essentially exhausting myself.
And as I’m fond of saying, I could take over the world as long as I slept well the night before.
A cyclist for life
I ride all you ‘round (it barely snows in Vancouver), but now that spring has sprung, the riding has been particularly good. The days are drier and warmer, the cherry blossoms are out, and I no longer need my bike lights and reflective sash to ride home at 4:30pm.
I’ve already had my bike in for its annual spring tune-up, and in another month, Vancouver’s streets are going to explode with other riders.
At this time, I’ll likely get as close as I ever come to experiencing cycling-induced anger when finding a free spot on a bike rack suddenly becomes a challenge.
But I’ll get over it, as I always do, and ride a little further until I find one, all the while, freeing my mind, improving physical and mental health, helping the Earth, and loving life on my bike.
A/N: **Always according to the rules of the road; I’m not one of THOSE kind of cyclists, and believe all riders need to be good ambassadors of cycling as a legitimate mode of transportation.
What sport(s) or physical activity(ies) do participate in? What benefits does it bring to your life? Tell me about it in the comments.