Thursday, December 8

Falling On Our Swords

Sometimes those who are "hard core" cyclists will wrassle with some pretty mean demons. And sometimes we (I loosely identify with the hard core crowd) beat ourselves up pretty bad for losing some of those wrasslin' matches.

One thing I've realized recently about being a full time commuter is that the majority of the time I do not have to make a decision about car or bike. I made that decision a long time ago. And then I wake up to conditions like I saw on Monday. Well, no, Monday is a bad example because I was somewhat excited about the prospects of riding in in single digit temps, with fresh snow so I could try out my chains. Let's skip forward to Tuesday.

Tuesday was cold. All of the snow had been churned up by thoughtless feet and tires. There was no easy path between Point A and Point B. And by the time I got to Point B it felt like I was somewhere around M or N. On Tuesday I hated it. I hated it. I hated it.

I was exhausted down to the frozen cores of my bones.

Yesterday, Wednesday, I opted to carpool. I rode in with a co-worker that lives nearby. She often encourages me to ride in her car when the weather is "bad" though most of those times I don't think it's such a huge deal. But when I called Tuesday night she immediately asked: "Do you want a ride tomorrow?" And I said yes.

Now, as someone who has made the goal (and posted it forever to be memorialized on the internet):

" the end of 2011 I will (as an individual) be completely car free."

Ha. Haha. Hahahahahahahahahaha!!! Ha.

As someone who made that goal I could be committing ritual suicide at this point. I won't. And I'll tell you why.

The reason I'm not going all seppuku on myself is because I am a realist. Life happens. We live in a world designed for cars. We live in a fluid and dynamic environment that often throws curveballs. We inhabit fragile bags of dirt with sensitive nerve endings.

The reason I've been able to make peace with the occasional car ride is because I know I am doing the right things otherwise. I made the choice long ago, almost two years ago now, to be free of the car. And while I end up being dependent on internal combustion engines from time to time, I also know if there were no cars available that I could still manage.

I rode my bike in a few inches of snow covering ice beneath in single digit temps. I've ridden in colder weather. I've ridden in deeper snow. I've braved wind and rain, blazing sun, headwinds born somewhere up near Boulder and I've swam through the currents of traffic like you wouldn't believe. Well, maybe you would.

So on the rare day when I just can't muster the mental energy to enter the fray...and choose for a brief moment to pull back from my chosen lifestyle and briefly, if not totally, concede defeat...I can still go on, sleep soundly at night, and not feel traitorous to my bicycle commuting kindred souls because I have made the right choice and continue to abide by it.

I realize if I still depended on the car, and occasionally rode my bike to work that I would find too many reasons not to ride. I would give up more often for lesser reasons. But because I'm faced with the choice only in the worst conditions I find I am much more likely to choose the bike more often.

I did ride this morning. It felt good. I was a little slow. I was a little timid around the ice at first (I've taken the chains off) but by the end of the ride I was artfully crossing glass-slick sheets of ice exhibiting the experience I gained last winter. Confidence grows quickly.

So I will not be sacrificing myself in shame, falling on my sword and letting the auto-centric hoard overtake me. I'll keep plugging along like I have. I'll get back on the bike again and again and again and again and again and again...

I'm about 90 miles shy of 5,000 for the year. Sometime next week I'll hit it. How will I celebrate? Maybe a giveaway of some swag? We'll see. Be ready for anything!


  1. I haven't given up my truck, and don't intend to, but it is my goal to commute by bike every day it is practical and safe to do so. I've made peace with the fact that there are times when it just doesn't make sense to ride. Appointments across town, off site meetings, and an occasional morning storm where it seems more prudent to drive than ride. And, the occasional snow/ice event. We get them so infrequently around here that our streets don't get cleared very quickly and things are a general mess. Rather than trying to set the bike up for those rare events, just concede those days. also helps that my wife works three blocks away, so any time I've always got a willing car-pool and rarely need to have a second car on the road.

  2. It's great that you guys are adapting and still pushing forward. Everyone has their own strategies and I find it interesting how many different variations on a theme there are.

    My particular situation lends itself to a consistent plan. There are very few scheduling snafus that disrupt my commuting. It really is only the weather I have to deal with at this point.

    I've looked at some other jobs that would have made me reconsider the current arrangement, and when we were looking for houses a couple of years ago we considered a house in Idaho Springs. That would have nixed the bike commuting 100%. I've considered going back and getting my masters degree, but the logistics, whether I were to go to Denver or Boulder, would be problematic.