For those of you who live in a slightly less "snow-threatened" area, your Bike-to-Work day was last month -- sometime in May. Colorado has moved it to a more weather-predictable day; this year it was last Wednesday, June 22. For those of us who are pretty regular bike-commuters, it was easy to tell that something different was going on. There were certainly MANY more cyclists on the road during both the morning and evening commute. And I was asked a bike-route question at a reception that afternoon by someone who didn't find an easy way to cross a freeway. And, gosh, it'd be great if there were breakfast stations EVERY day!
A friend in my spin-class often talks about bike-commuting. When I saw him in the gym on Tuesday, he asked where the breakfast stations were situated. He was planning on trying it out (he only lives about a mile from his office). So, when I saw him on Wednesday, I asked if he DID bike commute. "No," he replied. He hadn't made the right preparations in logistical thinking the evening before and fell back on the normal mode of transport: car. Lesson one: change in patterns isn't easy!
While on my commute that morning, I was headed down a slight hill. Coming up the other side of the road was a young woman, walking her bike. Apparently she was someone who had decided to take the "bike-to-work" plunge and found that the "hill" that isn't noticeable in a car can be a bit of a lung-burner on bike. Lesson two: a change in perspective brings new appreciation for one's environment. I don't like that "hill" either, but I have learned that it gets easier with practice. I wanted to shout encouragement, but traffic prevented it. Regardless, I mentally applauded her for getting out of her car and attempting the ride (she WOULD have a downhill commute on the way home!). Lesson three: every journey begins with a single step (pardon the cliché).
One of the rationales behind Bike-to-Work day is to encourage people to try something new -- a different way of commuting. It is, in a way, a call to repentance, a call to make a change. For some the draw may be to pollute less; for others it may be to get more exercise. For most of us, making the decision to follow a different path was not easy; there are all sorts of "good reasons" why we can't make changes. On the other hand, when the lure is attractive enough, the benefits of making a change can certainly be worth the effort.
I often ask myself "where am I being challenged to change?" There are always many more answers/challenges than I have energy to address. And maintaining inertia is my usual response. So the lessons of this week's Bike-to-Work challenge are good reminders.
I hope the young woman I saw at the corner of Dahlia and Hampden keeps it up! She certainly inspired me to work through the difficulties of making a change. Best wishes to others in the same situation!
* With apologies, and homage, to Shunryu Suzuki's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (1970).