Fall is here. It’s grey, it’s windy, it’s rainy, and it’s cold. But still I love riding my bike. Here are some reasons why.
1. It’s hard to start but I always feel better after. I sometimes have to remind myself but it’s true. Studies show that people who work out because of the way it feels are more likely to stick with it than those who exercise for performance or weight loss goals. Doing it because it feels good works for me.
2. The cold rewards effort in a way the summer doesn’t. I once complained to a very serious cycling colleague that I got cold riding to work. He said, deadpan, you’re not pedaling hard enough. What’s true about that is effort warms you up.
3. It makes me feel rugged. The other day I posted on Facebook, “It’s objectively a miserable day. It’s dark, damp, and cold. But still I feel really good being out there riding my bike. I never know if that is just about feeling good about being tough and hardy, or if it’s genuine enjoyment. Either way, I’m smiling. I’ll take it.”
4. I have the gear. I hate having things and not using them. And I’ve got covers for my cycling shoes, fall cycling gloves and winter cycling gloves, several varieties of ear and head covers, coats and vests. I’ve got the cold weather cycling stuff and it feels good to get some use out of it.
5. I don’t have a parking pass. See this post on commitment mechanisms.
6. I feel better being outside even if it’s dark and rainy and cold. I’m the kind of person who hates feeling trapped indoors. It’s guaranteed to make miserable. It’s beautiful outside even on dark, gloomy fall days. There are still beautiful orange and red leaves and there’s something lovely about the bright against the dark grey. It’s true that I’m often sad in the fall but the other day looking at the bright leaves against the grey, I thought about how soft and beautiful it looked. Melancholy can be like that, a soft gentle sadness.
7. There’s a hot tub waiting for me at home. Also hot chocolate. My rule is that I don’t bike to work in the pouring rain but I do ride home in the cold and the rain. I say no to family members who offer to come rescue me and my bike. Because when I get home, it’s often straight to the hot tub. I love that.
8. The bike path is mostly empty. If the bike path in September is like the gym in January, by November it’s like the gym in March. Bliss. Also, it’s almost all experienced riders with lights and all the right gear and all the good bike handling skills.
9. It’s faster than driving. My fastest time door to door by bike is 13 minutes though most days on my commuting bike it’s more like 20 minutes. If I drive to work and park in remote parking it can take me that long to walk to my office from my car.
10. Freedom! In a family with shared vehicles having the car means being the person who gets messages about picking up this or dropping off that. Not the person on their bike. We’re free to come home when we want, empty handed.
11. I’m not much fussed about my size and tightly fitted road bike clothes but still, even I love that there’s zero chance of body image issues bundled up in winter cycling gear.
12. Other cyclists smile at me. I love that, the look of recognition. We’re on our bikes and happy to be out there.