Thursday, September 8, 2011

By All Means Go Slower...

The Artist recently read on a blog, "When you are starting to sweat, by all means go slower."  Words to live by as we finish up the first summer of riding.  Anyone who knows me personally knows that the summer was the season that I most dreaded in terms of cycling.  Now coming out on the other side of it, though the temperatures remain in the high 90s and low 100s, I am thankful to say that I survived.

It is interesting to me that one of the first questions that people ask us when they find that we are car free is something to the effect of, "But what do you do when it rains?"  (Which by the way, happens not very often in our temperate climate.  Maybe that is why people are so afraid of it.)  No one has ever asked, "But what are you going to do when the temperature is 100?"    Well, I'm here to set the record straight.  It is, in my humble opinion, the hardest season to ride.

In the fall, winter and spring, when I want to go somewhere, I just go.  I don't think about how dehydrated I'm going to be when I get there.  I don't think about how much sun I or my kids are going to be exposed to or how sweaty I'm going to be.  I don't worry about running into someone that I haven't seen for awhile and have to explain my red face and the sweat dripping off me when they come to give me one of those half hugs of greeting.

During those other 9 months of the year, I enjoy the wind and the fog and the flowers and the trees.  If I'm cold, I put on more clothing.  If it is wet, I take an umbrella.  If it is beautiful, I enjoy every moment of being outside. It doesn't snow here (sorry, gentle riders in the east) so that isn't even something that I have to think about.  For the most part these months make for a very happy cyclist.

On the other hand, the summer and it's heat make it much harder to find the joy in the ride, so in an effort to find the good in all experiences I figured out what I like about summer riding.  Here is my list...
1.  Light.  It stays light longer.  It makes biking with children so much easier when it is light late into the evening.   Plus I really like light.
2.  More cyclists on the road.  Interestingly, most people where I live only pull out their bikes in the summer months, and though I don't understand why people don't cycle in the fall, winter, and spring (because it is so much nicer), it is great to see a few more people cycling around town.  There are times even when, gasp, the bike racks actually have another bike in them.  (We live a pretty solitary biking existence here.)
3.  Never getting wet.  I actually don't mind getting wet from the rain, but since it is something that really seems to worry many people, I thought that I should add it as a plus for summer riding.
4.  School.  I notice that there are more bikes in the bike racks at school.  Yea for kids riding bikes and fewer cars around our schools.

I must say that after writing down my list, I feel much more positive about the summer.  But don't get me wrong, I am glad it is almost over.  Summer riding.  Not for the faint of heart.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

One Year

It is quite impossible to fathom the profound impact of going car-free has been in my life.  Sometimes in my own thoughts, I forget how this has changed not only my life, but us as a family.  I recently overhead The Artist tell someone that this was the best decision that we have made in our married life together.  I agree.

Biking as transportation has given us so much.  It has given us time to be together as a family enjoying the outdoors, every day of the past year.  It has given us an identity that is ours with our box bike and our 6 year old confident to ride on the streets.  It has given us new friends both here and in the blogosphere that are working toward making our world a better and safer place.  It has given me spiritual insight into how the small changes that I make really can help others and myself.  It has given me confidence to try things that I have been afraid of doing in the past.  It has given me the insight that family and community are vastly more important than the things that we own and the conveniences that those possessions offer us.

And so in honor of this very special day, we invited anyone who was willing to join us for bike party.  It was a party to celebrate the accomplishment of the past year and to help us look forward to the future.  We started in a park.  Here are some of the pictures of the people who came.  Sadly I did not get pictures of everyone.  Next time I'll do better.

And then we took off on a leisurely ride through residential streets.  Some of these friends had not ridden a bike for years so it was great to see them rise to the occasion. 

We ended up at a local Mexican resturant where they were very accommodating with our 20 + bikes.


Here's to another year of car-free living.