Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cycling is for Lazy People

Photo Credit: Let Ideas Compete via Compfight cc
When I talk about cycling, people often say, "Well, you're athletic" by way of excuse for why they aren't cycling. I think a lot of people see cycling as mainly a sport. I also get a lot of pitches for things to talk about here on the blog that are sports or fitness related, probably for the same reason. So I thought I'd clarify why I ride a bike.

Point A to Point B the Easy Way

Cycling isn't a sport for me. It's just one of the ways I get around. At the moment it's the easiest way for me to drop Sprout off at daycare a few blocks away--I get to sit while moving! I can coast! I don't have to physically support Sprout except when getting him in & out of the seat! He actually runs to go get his helmet & get on the bike! (he's usually much less eager about walking somewhere) It's lower impact on my poor relaxin-altered joints than even walking! Normally, when my belly's not full of baby, I ride to get groceries (Costco hauls included, sometimes) to visit friends, to work, to appointments.

My husband also rides for transportation--his commute is a little more impressive than the 2km jaunts I tend to limit myself to these days--he rides 15 km each way, five days a week: 150km a week, not including weekend outings we may go on. It's not because he's training or anything--to my knowledge he's never been in a bike race in his life. Neither have I, for that matter. I wouldn't rule it out but cycling just isn't really about racing or endurance or distance for us. It's just about getting somewhere.

I won't deny that I like the fitness aspects of cycling. But I delight in the efficiency of getting exercise while going somewhere. Can't complain about the view of my husband either, who's fitter than most early-forties dads I know. :) But the exercise is really just a side benefit.

Green Transportation

The fact that cycling is pretty much the greenest way to travel is a big reason why we do it. True, there is definitely an impact to the plastics & metals used in the manufacture of our bikes & gear, but very little compared to a car. To minimize this, & have a better riding experience too, we try to buy decent quality components, accessories & bikes so that we're not throwing this stuff away more than we have to. Other than eating slightly more food than if we drove instead of biking, there's basically no energy cost to riding a bike & zero emissions.

I confess: I'm cheap

A really big reason for using bikes for transportation is COST. We use transit, walking, biking & the occasional Modo car rather than owning a car. I'd estimate that our total transportation costs for the three of us combined in a year are about $2500. That's including a few 1000km trips to Oma & Opa in the Okanagan, the depreciation, maintenance & occasional gear for our bikes which see about 7,000-8,000 km a year, as well as transit fare. During the brief two years that we actually owned a car, our transportation costs were nearly double that, just for the car, which neither of us drove to work--we still cycled & took transit. I'm fairly sure our total transportation costs would have been somewhere around $6,000 a year then.

For the Fun of It

The main reason I bike for transportation is because I like it. It's fun to feel the wind on my face as I coast down hills. I love that I can see the world so well, partly because I'm travelling a bit slower than a car, but also because I'm not surrounded by glass & steel. I notice little details about my neighbourhood & can stop on a dime & watch things with Sprout like a squirrel eating a pine seed or an excavator digging the foundation of a building.

& the smells--that's not something you really get in a car--I can literally smell the roses as I ride to places. I can smell the ocean while zipping along the seawall. Delicious odours waft out of cafes & restaurants as I ride by (& sometimes stop for the few extra calories that I need).

I love the direct feel of steering the bike, leaning into corners & the feeling of accomplishment when you've pushed up a big hill under your own steam (with the assistance of a granny gear--I'm no single-speed masochist!)

Cycling is for Anybody

If you've ever noticed the bruises I somehow manage to constantly collect on my shins, you'd know I'm neither athletic nor graceful. Cycling for transportation just isn't that hard. So there you have it. Cycling is for thrifty, lazy, fun-loving people (who like to be green too).

Do you like to bike? What are your reasons? If you don't bike, what's holding you back? 

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