Monday, December 6

The Non-Conformist Manifesto

Its that time of year again, when there is frost on the tips of the grass, you can see your breath in the crystal clear air and when my coworkers begin harassing me because I ride my bike to work.

"Wow! You rode today?"

"Uh-UH! You didn't!"

"You're crazy!!!"

Today at least I got a couple of novel responses. From a married couple who also bike: "I bet we're warmer than you, well, no, you're probably sweating."

And another coworker who mountain bikes: "Now there's a REAL cyclist." I had to clarify that I was not riding because I wanted a workout, but because my family is a single car family.

Let's go back to the You're crazy comment for just a second. No, I'm not.

I would comfortably venture to say that I am a raging non-conformist, a closet anti-social and a devout believer in the power of the bicycle to save the world. I am not crazy.

I've always been a non-conformist. Oh, don't get me wrong, I've fallen prey to good advertising before, heck, I've fallen prey to some really shoddy advertising. Who hasn't? But set aside my impulsive nature and when it comes to making conscious decisions I pretty much follow the beat of a different drum 99% of the time.

So riding a bike on days when the fair-weather commuters are sipping coffee while texting behind the wheel is pretty much in character for me.

What's funny is that despite being a philosophical non-conformist I believe more people should be like me and step outside of convention when it comes to their daily transportation choices. I hate to use the word diversity because of what it has come to mean, but a diversity of creative ideas will strengthen a community.

But it fundamentally comes down to this point: if you ride, or if you profess to be a cyclist, hiker, rock climber, tennis player, etc, then why would you stop doing something you love because the weather is less than ideal? And I think this is where I diverge from conventional thought. Its not that I am biking on a cold day, but that I am comfortable doing anything outside on a cold day. Most people avoid being outside when the temps drop below freezing. I understand that, I get cold too, but I've never been the sort of person that believed that the weather is a strong enough deterrent to keep me inside when the urge strikes me to go outside and do something.

The flip side of the coin is that up until recent history humans were more used to functioning in all sorts of weather. In the days before the climate controlled cubicle we labored in fields, drafty factories and hunted and gathered without the benefit of Gore-Tex. I myself have had some pretty weather intensive jobs in my pursuit of the American Dream. In particular I worked at a sawmill for a couple of years and can honestly say that it was both the hottest and coldest job I've ever had.

Mitigating the weather is more a state of mind than anything. If you can learn to dress appropriately you can survive outside in the US with little problems. And honestly, 22F degrees in arid Colorado isn't as bad as people think.

Also, check out this film from Streetfilms:

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