Friday, April 24, 2015
The ride downtown today involved temperatures hovering around freezing, shite pavement, potholes, aggro drivers, a howling headwind (which seems to have persisted for days, and seems to be against me no matter what direction I'm going in), sluggish tires, watering eyes, and one asshole in a Maserati buzzing me too close and annoying me even more because of his satin-finish silver luxury Italian car.
And yet, I do not regret not choosing the car. Not one bit. I may be a little ticked off and shaky from a few close passes and the fact that a headwind shuts off your hearing (far more than music does, o thou distracted-cycling worriers). But that doesn't mean I would rather have taken the car.
We're too hung up on being comfortable, for one thing. I recently responded to a writer who'd sent me a series of questions about riding and found myself actually self-editing out references to rain, snow, ice, traffic, cold - basically discomfort - even though those are things I feel good about dealing with, because I thought it wouldn't encourage new riders. And maybe it wouldn't. But in fact, what is so bad about doing things that are not comfortable?
When I get stuck in a blizzard on the way home and have to pick my way along the wheel track blinking ice pellets out of my eyes, that is certainly not comfortable. But "fun" and "comfortable," at least for me, aren't necessarily synonymous. I also like to spend my Saturday dragging my ass up steep hills, possibly braving wind and rain, being anxious-to-downright-scared at times, and clinging to small edges of rock at unnerving heights above the ground. That is not comfortable. And yet, it's the best thing I can think of to do with a Saturday.
And when I get on the bike and it's -35C out there, or traffic sucks, or it's raining, or whatever, there's an elation to knowing that shit like that will not stop you. That in fact, you eat adverse conditions for breakfast and feel more alive because of it.
And if I took the car? I'd be sheltered from the wind and the aggro drivers. But I'd be in the car. Feeling more and more sluggish. Missing out on the sharper focus you get from riding, from the cold wind, from the blood circulating, even from being buzzed by the jackass in the Maserati. I would feel duller. I would think, as I parked somewhere downtown and paid for it, that I probably should have been on the bike.