My commuter friend is a Very High Mileage rider, dedicated to riding any day it’s not raining (and sometimes even when it is). His personal commitment to cycling is inspirational. I have explored more boundaries by riding with him than any other cyclist – mostly because he doesn’t make excuses not to ride. The bike is there – just go ride it. He has a wealth of experience to tap into – and I regularly try to pick his brain to avoid mistakes as much as possible. That being said, everyone is different and I’ve been known to be bone-headed more than once.
The other day my commuter friend and I were grinding up the hill from the creek back to civilization and talking about the National Bike Challenge. He’s on a team with other Crazy High Mileage cyclists and they are doing very well in the challenge. Every member is out every single day, logging not just trips to the store or to work but serious miles. I can’t even comprehend being able to spin that many miles day in and day out without burn-out or loss of happiness. I know that I tend to lose interest in things and can burn myself out very quickly when something fun becomes an obligation – a chore – yet another thing that has to get done today that I will feel poorly about myself if I can’t accomplish.
Sometimes it’s hard to keep things in balance. I am constantly reminding myself that what I do already is totally awesome, I should be proud of my accomplishments and stop comparing myself to others who are in completely different situations. I am one of the few people I know with school-age kids who gets out for long rides on a regular basis. I have ridden over 1100 miles so far this year – more than the last two year’s mileage-to-date combined three times over – and had a lot of fun. I’ve ridden in heat, cold, rain, thunder, and sunshine. I’ve seen views that are so amazing your heart aches. I’ve seen skylines disappear on the horizon, lingering devastation from last year’s hurricane, and more animals than anyone could have thought to see in a metropolitan area.
The thrill of bicycle commuting is palpable – it is never easy to wake up early, but putting the feet to the pedal tends to clear up any lingering doubts about whether this is what you really want to do instead of sleep in. I remind myself that I am a bicycle commuter even though I only do it 2, sometimes 3 times each week. Because doing it even once a week is more than never. I feel like I occupy a weird space too: my commute is long enough to necessitate Lycra – which is what most “how to bicycle commute” articles indicate is not necessary – but most of our commuter “gang” are somewhat anomalies in that we commute 10 miles or more each way. If I lived closer to work, I would ride every day no question. If I didn’t have parental and relationship obligations in the evenings, I would ride every day no question. But I’m not just a Kick Ass Girl. I’m also a wife and a mom.
On the flip side, I have a regular life too. School is wrapping up for the kids so there are field trips, dances, and End Of The Year celebrations. The last five weekends had events and trips with my Girl Scout troop. We went camping and had a blast despite the damp and rainy weather. A few days ago we took the kids out for water ice at the local stand because the proceeds benefit our middle child’s school. This weekend we are planning a cook-out in our neighbors in our communal yard – last year was so wonderful with the kids running around catching fireflies and bugs in jars until it’s too dark to see. This is what life is all about!
Finding the balance isn’t easy and we should all support each other where we are. Keep it fun – riding your bicycle shouldn’t be a chore or just another item to check off at the end of the day. It should be integrated into your life seamlessly so that you have balance and honor your authentic life.
See you on the road!