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As I was riding home today, I’m pretty sure I saw half of the Twin Cities, walking dogs, riding bikes, jogging, just enjoying what has been the best day in a winter full of good days. I think we can officially put winter to bed for 2012. Certainly it will be chilly in the mornings still, but I don’t see a high below 40 or a low below 20 for the next several days, so I can start thinking about shedding a layer on the morning rides, slipping in an extra five minutes, and hopefully getting home a few minutes sooner since it’s that much less clothing to put on and take off. That’s the hidden cost of winter biking. There’s a lot of layers going on there, and all that clothing takes a lot of time. So I think I can suffer through a couple mornings in the near future as I keep hitting the bike.

Unfortunately, I only just crossed the 700 mile mark for 2012. I know, I’m so lazy. On the plus side, I have ridden 32 of out 66 days (outside, at least…exercise bikes hardly count), and that percentage is sure to go up as we get into the stretch where I ride to shows, Twins games, or whatever the hell else catches my interest. I know that the longer days are ahead of me, when I start turning in 40 and 50 miles instead of just 22. And you know what? I look forward to it. Of course, spring and summer come with their own special hazards as more and more people crowd the roads and trails. It’s always a little treacherous on these first few nice days, not because of the ice (though that will be back in force one of the next few mornings), but because everyone out there is getting their bearings. I want them to, but you have to pay attention. People are still working on the kinks on their rides, still getting back in the swing of the simple courtesies of the road, and generally that stuff is not automatic. But it does come back (except for those jackasses who just never had it and never seem to want to find it).

It’s going to be tougher to get a tune-up, but that’s a good thing. That means more people are getting ready to get out there. Don’t take it into the shop just to put it back in your garage or basement and not pull it out again. There’s a bike storage room in my building and I swear 4/5ths of those bikes never move. Some of the owners may not even live there any more at this rate. Setting that aside, I should call Freewheel and schedule some time, because my bike needs some work as it is.

And if you want to see Lake Calhoun, you better go now. Because it just gets ungodly as it warms up. It’s the one place I am happy to be when it’s raining or cloudy or cold because half the Twin Cities is there if it’s nice. Bless their hearts, but there’s too many people who are just there to be seen. And there are so many better lakes in the chain. Maybe you are out there to see and be seen. I’m fine with that when I’m walking. But it’s a mess on a bike. There’s just not as much to see at 15 miles an hour.

Look, I’m not saying I expect you to start biking to work tomorrow (though, you know, it’s not that hard…). I know we all have a lot of things in our lives that pull us simultaneously impossible directions. While it would be noble to ride to work every single day, that’s just not going to happen in my life. Not that I shouldn’t try to make it happen every day, but there’s a lot to juggle. Sometimes I need to be in Brooklyn Park at 6, and while I certainly could do that on a bike, there’s still the fact that I would somehow need to get back to Saint Paul later that evening. Even someone like me who bikes a fair amount has to make those decisions. And maybe it’s not biking for you. All I’m saying is, I get that winter is an easy excuse to not do things. Especially this winter, when the normal wintry things weren’t even possible. Minnehaha was a little sad, though it was also nice to see the only partially frozen falls. It’s a bit different.

Anyway, it’s time to get onto those goals. Because this year, I’m figuring out how to get my bike from Saint Paul to Hastings. And though my mileage was a little disappointing for the first couple months, 6000 miles is still a realistic goal. Because the 200 mile weeks will begin to pile up. It’s not all that much anyway. My parents will ride at least as much as me probably, and I have an uncle who will definitely ride twice that. I bike because I enjoy it. I don’t expect everyone to. But if you are getting out there, are you enjoying what you do? Because you should. There are too many great things to do, especially right here in Minnesota, for you to be spending too much time doing one that you don’t enjoy. Whether it’s on a lake, around a lake, or nowhere near one doesn’t really matter. We can get too caught up in all the various bullshit of life. The long work days, the things we need to do, I get it, I have them too. The dishes still don’t wash themselves and until there’s a fundamental restructuring of the way our employment is structured in this country, I don’t think the long work days will stop any time soon either. Personally, I long for the days when the bike paths and road trails are so crowded that we actually have to pay more attention to that infrastructure. While it’s a bit contrary to a large part of why I bike (seriously, cut 5-6 hours of driving in traffic out of your life and see how much less stress you feel) as more bikes mean paying more attention and probably falling into those same pitfalls, I think we as a society are a long way from that. And it’s never going to become most people’s primary mode of transportation. So if it’s not biking, that’s fine. And if it’s not why you bike, that’s fine too. Get out there and run, or walk, or take those dogs to Cedar Lake. Make this the year you finally see Cascade River or the Devil’s Kettle. And if you don’t live here, I’m sure there’s plenty to do wherever you are. It’s not that hard if you look for it. The question is, do you really want it?

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