Why I ride a bicycle
My father was a farmer. He awoke at 3:00 a.m., went down to the barn and did an enormous amount of physical chores before the sun came up. After school, I would help with the second milking of the day. It did not matter if it was 80 degrees out or 20 below. The chores could not be neglected; farming doesn’t work that way.
Because I am “smart”, I have held a succession of cushy jobs in my life that did not require physical labor: administrative jobs, desk jobs, front desk jobs, bookkeeping jobs, secretary jobs, analyst jobs, etc. Now I am doing something mentally challenging (building websites) but still physically non-engaging. In other words, I still sit at a desk all day long as the major part of what I do.
But that isn’t my only reason for riding a bike. It goes deeper.
For starters, I feel like I should be doing something physically challenging. Not to “exercise” but to prove that I am not a weakling, that I haven’t been made impotent by all the technology meant to make my life “easier.” I find going to the gym very unenlightening, so riding my bike lets me get out there into the world and prove that I am not a wuss.
Second, we humans tend to isolate ourselves from others. When I am on my bike, I can engage with my fellow humans. I am part of the world around me. I am not watching it go by and wishing there was a parking spot so I could go into that cool, new store. I am there, ready to take part in any adventure I ride by. Bicycle riders are a boon for local brick-and-mortar businesses.
I do not simply want to get from point A to point B as fast as possible. Riding my bike helps make every trip an adventure. Sometimes it’s really hot; sometimes it rains; sometimes it’s cold. Heck, sometimes I’ll take the bus instead! But even the bus brings me close to humanity.
My privilege allows me to avoid almost anyone with whom I do not wish to come into contact. That privilege is not shared by everyone. It is my privilege to CHOOSE to ride my bike or the bus, and I fully realize that. When I am on the street or on the bus, I come into contact with folks that most of my peers do not. Those are people I want to see and meet and know. They are good people who just have entirely different circumstances than me. If I did not live this unconventional lifestyle, I would probably never meet or see them. The world is much more segregated than we’d like to think. To know something is to understand it, and that’s why I try to meet people who are different than myself.
So, that’s why I ride a bicycle. And in Florida, I do not own a car. Not owning a car is not always easy. Sometimes I am a total pain to my friends. Sometimes I just don’t feel I have the energy to plan ahead, leave early, do a bunch of pedaling and turn up a bit sweaty. But when I get back from my meeting or the coffee shop or a grocery run, I feel like I really DID something. I feel like I earned my keep in the world. Not only that, I saved a bunch of carbon from entering the atmosphere.
My lifestyle is not for everyone. Many folks think I’m crazy not to own a car. It’s what society expects civilized people with normal jobs to do. More and more, I think society is insane, and I try to challenge the status quo in ways that make me happy. I think people’s priorities have gotten very out-of-whack, and we’re chasing some crazy economic dream without bothering to nurture ourselves or have a life with meaning.
With a bike, my days are full of adventure. And that’s the way I like it.