In a completely undramatic turn of events, I’m back on my bicycle this season. I’ve documented the ups and downs of my bike history on this blog. From doing my first triathlon with my sturdy commuter bike (which has and continues to serve me well), to buying a road bike and learning to ride with clipless pedals, to the enthusiasm of triathlon training up to the Olympic distance, to buying a second fancy bike specifically designed for riding in the aero position (worst decision of my cycling “career”), to mounting angst over road training… and finally facing the anguish of a road bike phobia that wouldn’t abate and quitting triathlon. It turns out that the answer to the question “Will Tracy find a healthy balance between bike fear and debilitating anxiety?” was “no, she will not.”
I made the decision to give it up in November 2016. Last summer I let myself off the hook entirely, not even dusting off my commuter bike. I sold both fancy bikes to people who would use and love them much more than I did. I still have a couple of pairs of bike shoes, some clipless pedals, and some cool kit kicking around. But the days of trying to be a cyclist are over.
This spring something unexpected happened. I was downstairs in the condo getting something from the storage locker and I had to move my commuter bike out of the way. When I did, I felt a pang of nostalgia. Now, I should say that I have never felt dread concerning my commuter bike (a Specialized hybrid Globe San Francisco model). I pretty much associate it with leisure cycling on the bike path along the river. It has a basic computer on it, but the battery has long since died and I decided that I can get way more enjoyment out of this bike if I don’t know or care how fast I’m going.
What with the liberating decision not to participate in the 100 days of step counting, I no longer feel pressured to get as many steps as possible. Biking on the path has become a live option that won’t interfere with the team’s efforts (because: NO TEAM! Freedom!) or mess with my need to get as many steps as possible (because: NO NEED! Freedom!). So that pang of nostalgia translated into a decision I feel good about: I will walk some days, but I will also ride my bike some days. To that end, on the long weekend we just had I pumped up the tires, located my helmet, and found my saddle bag.
Door to door it’s faster for me to ride my bicycle to campus than to drive even at the best of times. But this summer, with construction season upon us, that’s more true than ever. The first test came this morning. I was in a hurry. No time to walk (it’s 50 minutes to walk) and way too beautiful out to drive. I hopped on the bike in my work clothes (it’s still cool enough that I can do that — when the heat of summer sets in I’ll need to change).
I had a calming and leisurely ride by the river to campus, coasting whenever I felt like it, saying “wheeee!” down the hills just like Sam does, and basically feeling like a kid again on my bicycle. I’ve got all the safe riding skills — shoulder checks, signalling, letting pedestrians know I’m coming by one polite ring of the bell — and I like not caring about how fast I’m going (even if I was sort of in a hurry; it wasn’t that much of a hurry).
I’m keen to do it again. And I’m not feeling the least bit regretful about my decision to give up “serious” cycling on fancy bikes.
When you commute on your bike, do you care how fast you go or do you just enjoy the ride?