I dislike biking. It’s not my favourite form of exercise, and since I moved into town and no longer have long, shaded, and quiet country roads to bike on, I don’t find it an enjoyable past-time either. This hasn’t always been true. As a child, I loved summer days and long bike rides.
A lot has changed from those days though, naturally. The setting obviously. I live in a small city, and country roads are not that far away. But still, the suburban roads and dangerous, narrow streets that surround me do not exactly encourage a cycling joyride. And, when your day starts at 8:30, and you have half an hour to get to work, the joy of a morning bike ride seems to completely evaporate at the foot of the first hill. I believe it is in this change of biking for pleasure to biking for transportation that my loathing lies.
My brother and sister both moved to this city for university as well. When they started, they had fewer luxuries than I do now. Since their graduation, the university has given all students a bus pass, the (discounted) price hidden in our tuition fees. I have also had a car for three out of the four currently completed years of my university career. While they had this luxury as well, I use my (parents’) little red Ford Focus far more often than they used their little silver Ford Focus (which their little sister crashed two years ago).
They biked. They loved to bike. Every day, to and from school, to and from the grocery store, to and from church, to and from everywhere.
When my sister left for university, her big present to herself was a reasonably expensive bike. Now, she and her husband don’t, and potentially never will, own a car. My brother biked from Ontario to BC just for fun the summer after he graduated from university. Even my parents love to bike. They each bought good road bikes, joined biking groups, and do charity rides in the summer.
And then there’s me. I’ve always been the black sheep of the family. I avoid mental math at all costs, I own 20 pairs of impractical shoes, and could be considered rather flighty and romantic in comparison. It’s OK. I’ve come to terms with it.
I bought a bike two summers ago on my summer school term. I was still being influenced by my siblings then, still in the mindset that the car is only to go home and to get a big box of kitty litter from the grocery store once a term.
And then, the school gave me a bus pass.
In the first couple years of university, I remember biking through slush and snow, completely loyal to that mode of transportation even as winter crept in. But as soon as I didn’t have to pay for something that was far easier on my fattening heart, I stuck my bike in my garage and didn’t take it out until this weekend, when the weather was nice and, in searching for something to do outside with my boyfriend, a bike ride was suggested.
It was hard. I run regularly, so I’m only slightly out of shape. I wouldn’t say I exactly enjoyed it. I’ll admit, it was his suggestion to make it a regular thing. (I’ve been complaining about the food he and his roommates eat during their school terms. It’s too good and too difficult to portion control! I need to stop eating there…)
So, at his suggestion, I’m trying something new. This morning, I packed a backpack instead of my “Hug a tree” bag. I left my car parked in my driveway and pulled my bike out. I can’t say I enjoyed the feeling of arriving to work out of breath and somewhat sweaty, but it’s a start. I need to change my view of biking from being purely transportation, to being regular exercise, a full hour a day. I like exercise.
Maybe that can even help regain some of the value I saw in it when I was a kid.