Saturday, April 9, 2011

Brave or Stupid?

Despite baring my knees for the rest of the season, the cold and snow and icy morning commutes have come back. The weather can't fool me, though. The longer days and the warmth of the sun, despite a crispness to the air, are all tell-tale signs of spring and warmer weather to come. That said, I have been thinking about purchasing a set of leg warmers for the early morning rides. I just haven't run across any that fit well.

My friend Chris (he rides his bike a lot, too) told me that he saw another bike commuter on his way to work the other morning. He said that it was good to see the other guy out there riding his blue Scott bike. He said it was good to see the other guy out there because you don't often have company for questionable weather and early morning rides. The same experience happened for me on Thursday morning at about 6:30. Some guy was entering the Reed Market roundabout a quarter-turn behind me. I waved at him and smiled. "We're not alone out here," I said to my faithful steed. We trotted the rest of the way to work and I got distracted by many, many things.

This morning's reflections jogged my memory, though.Year round commuting is lonely. I mean, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I'm addicted to it...but there are days when it is very lonely. On those days cars are no longer vehicles driven by people, but hideous machines that are out to destroy anything that gets in their path. Often you play games with yourself for motivation to keep going. To keep riding. Mostly the games that I play have to do with not falling and not getting run over by cars while my feet are dragging in eight inches of snow with each pedal stroke and the shoulder is only two inches wide and half-ton machines are zipping by at 30-plus mph. It's funny to read, but really more of a serious game when you're actually playing it. It is not a game that I would recommend for everyone. Oh, and did I mention that you usually have to play alone. No chatting on the cell-y tell-y for your commute to work anymore...

Despite these mind-games, when I get to work, the adrenaline rush overtakes the fear and pain from the commute and makes me want to do it again. People have often said to me, "I don't know whether to think you're brave or stupid." To which I have many-times replied , "Oh, it isn't that bad. You just have to get out there and do it." Which is mostly true, but thinking back, I have ridden on days that I ask myself the same "brave or stupid" question. From my point of view it is neither. I am very grateful for the warmer weather and less snow. I mentioned that the roads were icy the last couple of mornings. I'll be honest: I wasn't looking forward to riding on slippery roads. You can't just enjoy the scenery when you are riding on ice. You have to be completely focused. It takes as much out of me mentally as it does physically.

As a reprise, I love the challenge of riding through the winter. I hope that me riding daily inspires other people to ride daily, because it is often lonely in the darker, colder months. That said, I am glad spring has sprung and bike commuters are rejoining Chris and I more and more.

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