Because we only have one car. Because I have to. Okay, so that's why I get on the bike each workday and pedal a minimum of 9.3 miles (one way) to and from work. That's not the root reason behind my daily cycling regime.
I made a conscious decision in late 2009 to sell my car and rely solely on my bike(s) for my personal mode of transportation. Why did I do that?
To be honest...because I didn't get to ride as much as I wanted to.
I'm one of those people who can make a bold and life changing commitment to bring about a desire consequence. I'm okay with living with the consequences of my decisions. Sometimes I question my judgment, and perform self-flagellation rites to purge the stupidity, but I accept the outcomes of my stupid decisions with such easy resignation it frightens me.
Some might say my decision to sell the car instead of pumping money into it so it would pass emissions, or replacing it with another hunk of plastic and steel bearing a monthly payment and mandatory full coverage insurance, was cowardly. Well, maybe not that exactly. But if someone did say that they'd be wrong.
It was a novel idea to begin with. I'd commuted in winter, but prior to that point I had never actually biked on snow or ice. I'm well schooled in winter surface treatments now. The novelty is long gone. The bruises have faded too.
I have to remind myself why I'm riding sometimes. I'm a big picture guy (not because I'm fat!) but even still...the day to day drudgery often gets to me. Some mornings I wake up, and (gasp!) I don't want to ride to work. Some afternoons I'm cranky because I don't want to fight traffic all the way home.
Those days I ride because I have to. I've committed myself to this arrangement. I've learned not to hate myself for painting myself into this corner. I usually don't think of it that way anyway.
But what keeps me off the used car lot? I've had my moments. As recently as this past Saturday I have wished we had a second car. Conventional "wisdom" would support my decision to buy the second car. I'd disappoint some of my friends and family, and I cause some of them secret glee that I'd failed in my experiment. I'm sure some stranger motorists would be happy that I'm not in their way on the roads anymore (ONE LESS CYCLIST!!!)
What would that act of acquiescence truly accomplish? Oh sure, I'd be free to reach far trailheads for weekend mountain bike rides. I'd be saved the horror of riding in extreme weather. I'd trade the stress of car versus bike for the stress of car versus car. I'd probably start hating cyclists for being in my way.
And what would I lose? Some of my dignity. Financial resilience. The freedom to ride without the temptation to drive. The satisfaction of being self-reliant.
I'm too far down this road to turn back. I know too much. I've covered too much ground and invested too much blood, sweat and tears in this lifestyle to just give it up. I owe it to myself to stick with it. I owe it to my kids to remain defiant of conventional thinking. Conventional thinking is going to be our downfall as a society.
I love cycling for no other reason than it makes me happy to ride my bike. I've committed myself to it (sink or swim) for a slew of reasons. I will continue to love cycling no matter how drudgerous it becomes to commute on two wheels each day, because the drudgery is not the fault of the bike but of the bigger picture.
The bike actually mitigates some of the stress-related weight gain. It brightens even those "have to" days. I try to remind myself that a bad bike commute is still better than no bike commute at all.
Truth be told, I wrote this a couple of days ago, but had something I wanted to post that was timely. So I left this as a draft to plug in at a later date. It's good to have a post ready to publish on days when you just don't feel like writing but don't want to leave a hole. Oddly, my mood fits this post today anyway. It's Friday. Yesterday was a long day and this has been a long week. I had a coworker call in yesterday and another out flexing today. And so the pile in my cube gets deeper...
Anyway, I am still fantasizing about having a job where someone else's illness or leisure does not cause more work for me, or totally screw up my routine and my day. That sounds selfish, but after awhile it does get really old and its hard not to continuously think of some way out. It closed yesterday.