|Hey, got a minute? I have a confession to make, about this sneaking around I been doin'...|
Confession time. I trust this will remain just between us, OK? Because this is rather, um, indiscreet of me to reveal something like this, but I feel that the time has come for a little more openness in our relationship, a little more candor. Some honesty about this whole bicycle commuting thing. Yes, I will now reveal it! The Real Reason I commute by bicycle!
Sure, there's the heath factor, the added fitness, the daily exercise and the ability to eat pretty much whatever I want (within reason) and not really gain weight.
And yes, there's the cost factor, all the money I'm saving on not paying car insurance, car payments, maintenance, parking, registration (which can be significant in AZ), or gas. Actually with oil over a hundred dollars a barrel, I think I will savor this for just a moment, by adding up my total expected expenditures on items related to commuting by car to work, for the last two years, and for the foreseeable future: NOTHING. ZERO DOLLARS*.
In fact, let me just slip this in, although it is definitely not the central theme of this particular post: oil and gas companies and producers who feel they have working Joes and Janes trapped in a corner because they have to drive their cars to work and therefore have to pay you whatever you want to charge for oil in order to drive your profits through the stratosphere while crushing our economy: KISS MY TONED UP BIKE COMMUTING ASS.
Nor is the main reason I commute by bicycle simply the bliss, joy, and mental calm that I feel from it, although that comes close to being enough in itself. Addicted to cycling? Yes, I am. But that's not why I commute.
To explain the main reason, I have to go back before bike commuting. Back then, I still loved riding my bike, mainly mountain biking the awesome trails around central Arizona, but as life went on, my time to ride grew less and less. At first, I was riding almost every day, until my work hours grew longer and longer, and pretty soon I was down to two or sometimes three, rides a week. Still, some of those were epic sunset mountain bike rides that I will never forget, but I wanted more time in saddle even as I was getting less and less.
Work picked up even more, my main riding buddy moved on, and riding dropped off to once or twice a week. Then the whole baby making family mode kicked in, and I dropped down to zero rides per week for four years or so, while other priorities took hold. I welcomed these new responsibilities, took them on with open eyes and heart, and knew what they expected and required, but I missed my bike time in many ways.
I put on weight, I was not in a good mood much of the time, and I knew that it was because I wasn't riding at all. So, slowly, stealthily, I started sneaking rides in, for fitness both physical and mental, almost always at odd times. During the summer, at nine o'clock at night, for example, a hot run through the broiling Phoenix night with lights blazing, just to get out and spin my heart out. A half commute here and there. The odd, rare ride to the store. Once I started sneaking those rides in, though, my mood picked up, my weight started tapering off, and I knew that I had to keep riding, find ways, even if it meant sneaking one in. Between family, work, rest, whatever, it became clear to me that sneaking one in was good for everyone concerned.
You see where this is going. I honestly didn't think of it this way before I started riding my bike to work, but soon after I got started, I realized this: probably no one is going to begrudge you the time to ride your bike to work, and if they do, perhaps you might consider offering them the same happy greeting I offered to the oil and gas producers, above. Bike commuting is sneaking one in, every day, twice a day. It has the virtues of combining something I have to do (work for a living) with something I love to do (riding a bicycle) with benefits from both that accrue to both, and to my life in general. Bicycle commuting is sneaking one in, legit. Twice a day. The only regret I have is that it took me so long to figure that out, and to make a habit of it.
*I know that I'm still paying for sky-high oil prices indirectly through more or less everything else I eat, buy, and do, but for some reason this commuting to work feels like the most immediate and significant one to me. In case the oil companies and producers think this means I am letting them off relatively easy, I note that the first magazine I ever subscribed to was "Organic Gardening," which I read cover to cover before going to bed at age 12, so fear the prospect of my locally-grown, bicycle transported, sustainably produced home food prepared and canned in a solar and wind powered off-grid gray water pumpin tiny house, ye titans of global petro-greed! My tomatoes will change the world! I ride softly, and carry a big zucchini.