10 April 2008


Somebody asked me recently when would the price of gas be so high that it would force me to make changes in how I view my relationship to the automobile. Well, I'd had enough a long time ago, and it wasn't just about the price of gas. We are a nation of greedy little piggies. I've already foregone driving out of state for 1 ride this year, and am probably foregoing another one, as well. My next vacation will be spent totally on bicycle, 4 days of just me, my lovely Katrina and the road (if the weather cooperates at all, that is). Like my foster father used to say, it's gonna get worse 'fore it gets better.

So what are you willing to give up, that remains the question? Are you willing to give up the comfort of a nice warm car during those cold and dark winter days and ride your bike to work come hades or high water? Are you willing to ride to the start line instead of driving, or give up rides that require you to drive more miles to and from the ride than the ride itself? Are you willing to put racks and panniers on your bike and use it as a utilitarian machine to do your chores instead of simply a hobby? Are you willing to take extra hours per week changing clothes from bike stuff to work stuff back to bike stuff and take on the added laundry burden of that? Are you willing to spend the added time in maintaining your bike because you are riding in conditions you would otherwise not ride in (i.e., rain, slush, etc.)? What else?

For me, I was tired of being one of the freeway drones every morning and every evening, sitting stuck in rush hour traffic and spending 45 to 90 minutes each way to get to my office and home. I was tired of trying to find solutions to make my commute more tolerable. I was tired of getting to work stressed out, leaving work stressed out and arriving home stressed out. I was tired of getting to work with a headache and feeling nauseous some days and tired of a general sense of anger when I had to get in the car to drive to and from work. Price of gas? I wish it would go higher. I wish it would get so high that more of us would simply say, I'm taking the bus. I'm riding my bike. I'm taking the train. We are a nation made up of individuals who think they are so entitled to every luxury, a life of leisure and we as a nation have a very poor sense of social responsibility.

I made my choice last March. I had a new bike, my job was going better than it ever had, I was at a pinnacle in the company I worked for and well respected by my peers. But I was sitting on the ferry on my way to a claim inspection when I heard of an opportunity that I thought might get me out of so much travel, allow me to make some positive change in my lifestyle and after considerable thought, a call to my wife to see what she thought, a call to my sponsor to run it by him and a call to a good friend to seek his wisdom, I made the jump. I am here a year later with a new job that pays more money, doesn't EVER require me to drive a car, allows me to ride my bike or bus every day and I know where I'm going to be sleeping tonight. I am up by 5:30, on my bike by 6:15, in the office by about 7, on BikeJournal for a half hour before chagning into work clothes and starting to "work", and there when everybody else trickles in complaining of bad traffic, bad weather, bad bus experiences, bad experiences with other pedestrians and the like. I, meanwhile, when asked by co-workers (as they are wont to do) how I am, can almost always respond "GREAT! Life is beautiful. Isn't it a beautiful morning?" When they complain about the cold, I chuckle to myself. When they carp and whine about freeway traffic, the price of gas, the price of parking and the like, I laugh uproariously (to myself, of course)and have a few things posted around my cube that really identifies that I rode in, and everybody sees me in my bike clothes morning and night. In the afternoon, when I leave, I have just spent 9 hours in a very stressful job, but I get on my bike and RIDE. By the time I get home, the stress is melted away.


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