Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Boy on a Bike on Being Boy on a Bike

Brian considers why he commutes by bicycle every day, no matter the conditions. He rejects most of the reasons he can come up with for why he does it, though he acknowledges this much:

Part of this is no doubt feeling like a contrarian, riding along congested roads in terrible weather, looking at the poor folks stuck in their warm cozy cars. There's also the satisfaction that comes from not being a slave to the weather, and just getting out there and doing it, regardless of conditions.

That much even I can appreciate from my own far more sporadic bike commutes, the smug satisfaction of doing something constructive while other people listen to Imus, though my winter weather cowardice precludes me from really accessing the spirit he's talking about. Indeed, I'm glad he wrote this post, because as a friend I find myself prone to wonder why he does it so religiously. Not a rainy or snowy morning passes that I don't consider throwing Brian an email asking whether he rode in. Thing is, I got tired of hearing the same answer every time, so at some point I just stopped asking.

I have something of an excuse for avoiding the wet: I don't have access to a shower at my office. My commute in is mostly downhill, so at least in the winter the no-shower thing isn't much of a problem. I sweat climbing the hill back up into Bloomfield at the end of the day, but riding in is only as sweaty as I choose to make it fighting the wind through the Strip District, and usually I'm too much of a vegetable in the morning to fight the wind hard enough to break a serious sweat in sub-freezing temperatures.

But the showerlessness may only be part of the story. And, I suspect, not a very big part at that. And it's not even that I don't like riding in bad weather. I've commuted in relative comfort down to 20 degrees, a temperature this city only falls below on a handful of mornings all winter long. As for the wet, I don't mind that either. When I first rediscovered cycling this fall, I must have gotten caught in the rain five of the first eight times I was out: out of shape, hissing along on a thick-framed cyclocross bike, barely able to hold a line under the best of circumstances, I still enjoyed it. Granted, my inability to wear contact lenses (can't get them into my eyes) definitely takes away some of the fun: glasses are almost more trouble than they're worth riding in the rain, but of course the alternative is riding blurry at night, when keen sight is your only friend. Better to see clearly through raindrops, than blurrily while blinking constantly.

So just as Brian asks himself why he does ride daily, I have to ask why I don't ride more often, at least on dry days? And I don't have an answer. In any event, that lack of an answer will probably get me on the bike that much sooner. Brian is a good influence, and the above-linked post does a good job of capturing why.


Blogger matt said...

Once you start doing it on a regular basis, it becomes a set routine... Brian is right.. if you don't ride then you have to find that spare pack of bus passes, take your flat tire (or "tyre", as Brian would say) stuff out of the bag, it's almost more hassle to break the routine.

Plus, it becomes almost like a baseball hitting streak that you don't want to break... "oh man, I rode in the last 4 days in a row, but today I'm a little hungover and it's windy out. guess i'll just tough it out anyway." Besides, there's really nothing that beats the feeling of climbing that last big hill on the way home, or walking up the stairs to your apartment with your legs slightly quivering from effort and knowing that you just earned the Wendy's triple chee-burger you're about to have.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Moon said...

For those who would have no way of knowing, Moon is a vegetarian. Matt knows this.

10:25 AM  
Blogger brian said...

Awww shucks.

I got over the no-shower thing this past summer. I used to taper my riding a bit in the summer to give my co-workers a break, but I've discovered that the combination of the sink and those fancy Old Spice cleaning wipes do the trick.

And by the way, thanks to high winds and blowing snow, the ride to work was really less than pleasant -- obviously some sort of retribution for my giving-the-finger-to-nature post.

10:26 AM  
Blogger matt said...

Oh, so it's always about you, huh? Maybe I was reminiscing about my wonderful commutes and burger experiences, huh?

P.S. You eat fish and eggs, which means you're only one slip from sitting in front of the tube and watching "The Simple Life" with a tub of lard and a spoon.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Moon said...

Brian, I'm suitably chastened.

Matt, bite me. Oh, and so that was you skulking about the night of lard and spoon? Dammit. I should have known. (You forgot about dairy.)

10:44 AM  

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