Sunday, November 14, 2010

End of My Cycling Season?

Yesterday's dump of snow combined with my pending trip to Indonesia officially marks the end of the bicycling season for me. This was my fourth year of seasonally commuting 12 miles each way to work and I got to the point this year where the pleasure of the ride reached a new high. I'll really miss it.

Just last Tuesday morning, 11/9, was one of my most enjoyable rides of all time. It was a gorgeous morning, sunny and in the mid-40s, and the timing of my ride and the arrival of dawn just a couple days after the end of daylight savings was perfect. The combination of the practicality of the bicycle commute along with the accompanying exercise and quality time outdoors is something that just feels so right to me. I wish there were more ways for me to combine those 3 elements.

When I go out on a long weekend ride, I usually can't help but think ahead to when the ride will be over. Often I have other things on my mind and while I love the exploratory nature of many of those rides, I rarely am able to allow myself to just purely enjoy them in the moment. It's as if my goal were to be able to say that I rode 50 miles.

Commuting to work puts me in a different frame of mind, though, and I am able to appreciate and revel in the experience of the ride. Since my morning destination is the office I'm in no hurry to complete the ride so it can sometimes feel like the high point of my day. Burning calories as part of a required daily task is pretty great, too. It's like losing weight and getting fit while brushing your teeth. And as I mature I simply appreciate the sounds and smells of the seasons more and more. I also think clearly when I'm riding and often will stop to email a great idea to myself.

As winter arrives I look hard to find a similar activity which can impart all those benefits on me and I don't see much. Maybe I just need to buy some studded tires, turn on all my rear red flashers and front white lights, don the balaclava and the white helmet and the yellow jacket and find a way to bicycle commute year round.

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