|trip to d.c. with friends. i'm in the middle.|
I’m an avid cyclist. Currently, however, that's true only in heart and mind, not necessarily in body. Since I spent the winter recovering from whiplash, I’ve biked very little. Even my weekly bike trips to the grocery store fell to the wayside.
While I fattened up like a plump holiday bird, the tires on my bike lost their bulge entirely. When I pulled out my mountain bike for our trip to Harper’s Ferry, I actually found cobwebs on my handlebars.
In the last month, however, the weather has turned nice. My neck feels good. I've been thinking, "perhaps I should get out my bike trailer and resume my rides to the grocery store."
Think. Think. Think.
The door to the shed sits expectantly ajar, but that creature on wheels has not emerged. I think it was locked in isolation for too long. As days blended into nights, perhaps it slowly went mad? The little scratches on the wall where it tracked the days since our last ride drop off in a line of despair. It no longer wants to come out.
Usually I savor my rides to the grocery store. This 1+ mile ride makes a symbolic gesture to climate change and bike commuting that means a lot to me. I wrote about this a while back. Once I’m in the groove of it, I can’t imagine driving. In fact, when the weather forces me into my car, I’m always surprised by how cumbersome it feels to maneuver that big machine in the too-small parking lot. Now that I’m out of the groove, however, the excuses abound: it’s too cold, it’s too hot, it’s too late, it’s too early, I just showered, I need a lot of big stuff, my tires are flat…
Al, the guy at the grocery checkout, asks me every week, “On your bike today?”
I promised myself I would break out this past Monday.
Except I didn’t.
I think it was too late, or too wet, or maybe just too complicated. Oh, I know: I was too lazy.
Then I realized that it’s National Bike Month! Sometimes I wonder why we have these random national this-or-that days – what’s the point? But the idea of doing something with a community is motivating; it plays on our herder instincts, I suppose. Our propensity to conform and follow doesn’t impress when one considers a mob of people carrying pitchforks and torches through the dark of night, but something like National Bike Month can play on our herd impulses and turn them to our advantage.
So, on Monday, I checked out National Bike Month and discovered that Wednesday (today) is National Bike to School Day. “Excellent,” I thought. If I can’t motivate myself, then why not put it on the kids?
I asked Olivia, “why don’t we ride to school anymore?” (as if she’s responsible for that lapse!). We used to ride the 6 miles to her school a few times a week to help her manage a day spent chained to a desk. We haven't done that all year. I explained to her that she needed to get her momentum back; she needed to dive in, recommit, motivate! Geez, what a slacker!
We couldn’t ride today, so yesterday, the poor child dragged herself out of bed 15 minutes early, ate some toast, strapped on her helmet and hit the trail with me in the early morning dew.
Instead of driving in traffic, we rode for nearly 5 miles through these woods:
When we started out Olivia said, “ugh. I just want to be in my bed.” After 30 minutes of dappled sunlight, scampering squirrels, chattering birds and the possibility of late-grazing deer, she said, “The LAST place I want to be is in my bed!” I sent her skipping into school refreshed, invigorated, and a little worn out. Perfect.
Me, I rode home feeling restored, and anxious to ride some more. Next week I'll be ready if Al asks me about my bike at checkout (please don't let it rain!).
I know you know what's coming...
Do you have a bike? Does it have cobwebs on the handlebars too?
Maybe National Bike Month can motivate you too.
I'm not asking you to give up your car. We are lessatarians, remember? We could use our bikes to drive less—even if it’s just a little bit less. There is a website called the 2-mile challenge. It claims that 40% of urban travelers make trips of 2 miles or less—in their cars. The 2-mile challenge asks us to make those trips by bike instead. Do you have a 2-mile errand? To school? The post office? Your neighborhood pool?
I know I said my trip to the grocery store is more symbolic than anything. I've always thought of it that way because I feel like my short commute makes more of a statement than it does an impact on my gasoline consumption. The beauty of the 2-mile challenge, however, is that I can log my trips on the website and see the impact they have when combined with everyone else’s 2-mile trips.
It’s kinda like that herd thing again. When I posted about biking for groceries last fall, I compared the cars in the parking lot to dumb cattle, trapped in a corral. But cows aren’t actually supposed to be dumb, are they? What if we got a herd of them onto their bikes?
We could make a difference, right?
It's National Bike Month, so yes, the message is: follow the herd; ride your bike!