Archive for the ‘ Cycling ’ Category

Volition

I am used to having some unusual conversations in my life. I must have inherited the gene from my grandfather that allows me to talk about essentially anything with anyone, ignoring things like circumstances, location, or how well I know the people. Certainly, I am more forthcoming than I used to be, which I believe to be a function of being happy with who I am. But I’m always surprised by the conversations and the overall general reactions. I talk about music and peoples’ eyes can glaze over as I mention band after band they’ve never heard of. Conversely, when I talk with people who plumb the depths of music just as much, it’s the exact opposite, the excited glow and effusive sharing. When I talk about trans stuff, at least most people I know and meet are pretty cool about taking it in and listening. Some are dismissive, but they at least seem to keep it to misgendering me over and over without outright calling me crazy. It’s when I talk about cycling that people tend to give me the “you are out of your fucking mind” look.

Last year, I rode about 3800 miles, which is a little disappointing for me. My tacit goal is about 500 a month, and I couldn’t ride until the beginning of April, so I was hoping for 4500, but it didn’t happen. Still, 3800 miles is a respectable number, and it’s a new year, so the goal renews. Not really a New Years Resolution, just a convenient point of demarcation, the new year. 500 miles a month roughly breaks down to 125 a week, which is not too hard to get close to when I ride my bike to work every day. And therein lies the one of the more enjoyable conversations that I have with some frequency. Here’s how it typically goes at work in Minneapolis. If I’m not at work, just imagine something that sets up the distance in the conversation:

Me – “I ride to work.”

Other person – “Oh, where do you live?”

Me – “In Lowertown.”

Raised eyebrow or similarly skeptical look
Other person – “How far is that?”

Me – “About 11 miles one way”.

Cue incredulity.

From this point on, there are a number of typical questions, but the order they go in vary from person to person. How long does it take (45 minutes one way), do you shower here (yes), what do you do when it rains/snows/etc (get gear out that takes care of it), how are you still riding in heat/cold/plague of locusts (most days, sure), what route do you take (Grand to Summit to Marshall to Greenway), do you ride up that big hill (which one?). The questions go on, and they are all specific items. There are questions about how safe I feel riding at night (not all that bad) to how I feel about riding in wind (possibly my least favorite thing in existence), whether I’ve been hit or I think I’m going to be (well, it’s road riding, not ruling it out, but no). They go on, and frequently I’m amazed by the specificity of the things that people ask in regard to cycling. Strangely, though, they never ask why.

Sure, it keeps me in shape, though frankly, probably not as much as some people imagine. I know I’ve covered it before, but it certainly does not save me money. I may not be spending it on my car (which I’m perfectly happy about) but I am spending it on my bike and various accoutrements. And I know I’ve said it before in long form, but it bears repeating because it’s a similar philosophy that carries over to the other things I do in my life, in who I am and how I choose to reflect that internally and externally. I do it because I like it, because I value it a lot, and because it means something to me.

Invariably there’s a part of the conversation where someone utters a statement like “I wish I could do that.” Here’s the thing. You can. If it matters to you, you should do it. Now I’m not saying everyone I know or work with should get out there, buy a bike, and start riding to work on Tuesday. That isn’t the issue to me. The issue to me is being honest enough with yourself to evaluate what is and isn’t important in your life and then making the decisions that help you follow through on that. I bike because it’s a good way to balance myself out. The time I spend on my bike is a bit detached from what feels like a hectic life. I’m not checking my phone, or updating my status, or particularly worrying about anything other than paying attention to the road and letting my mind go where it goes. And I assure you, it goes fun and interesting places when I just give myself 45 minutes or so to think. I like that uninterrupted time, I like the fact that I’m working off calories and keeping myself somewhat in line from a health perspective or at least balancing out some of my other more questionable choices. To me, those are important things. Just like experiencing live music is an important thing. Which is why I’m willing to go out on a Wednesday night to see a band and then get up and go to work the next day on said bike.

I get it, things come up in life outside of our control that can affect how or why we as individuals use our time. But that’s true of everyone. We are all too busy. We all don’t have enough time. There’s too much for all of us to do. Part of growing up is making decisions and sticking with them in regard to those things. I don’t really play video games much anymore. It’s not because there’s anything particularly wrong with them. I still enjoy them when I carve out the time. I will again soon with the pending release of Final Fantasy XIII-2. But they aren’t a priority like they were 10 years ago. I value different activities now. But I also know that there’s a lot more time out there to be used than we think. It may not feel like it, but remember the next time you feel crunched for time that it is likely that you made a decision that directly contributed to that crunch. I’m not saying you should not have made those decisions; I still feel all the time that I may have over-extended myself in a given day or week. So what’s the importance of biking relative to that?

Like I said before, it’s the time-out. It’s working in something that I feel I should already be doing without taking too much more time to do it. It kicks me out of bed and gets me to face the day. It wakes me up and helps me sleep at night. And if that’s biking for you as well, then by all means, join me in the too-crowded locker rooms at Wells Fargo each morning. And if it’s not that, take a minute to figure out what you need, and what provides it. And then do it. There’s nothing wrong with saying “I wish I could do that”. But it should give anyone pause. Stop and think the next time you find yourself saying that. Because if you really do wish you could do that, how are you going to make that happen? And if you don’t, why are you saying that?

 
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