Thursday, June 28, 2012
In my many years of cycling, I have seen a lot; from amazing cloud formations and sunsets, to animal behaviour I would have missed if I had been driving a car at a high rate of speed. I have also seen a more unpleasant side of human behaviour. People throw a lot of garbage from their cars. McDonald’s wrappers, Tim Horton cups, bottles, Kleenex, bags of clothing, clothing not in bags, used Pampers, used condoms, and much more. Sometimes they step out of the car to relieve themselves, which is a very good reason to stay ON the pavement.
I’ve learned a great deal too! Cycling can often be a metaphor for life itself. For example, the faster one goes, the harder one hits the bumps and the more those bumps hurt.
Following are a few more examples of the things I’ve learned from my bicycle seat:
Summer is exceptionally short.
So it seems is my memory. I don’t remember my butt hurting so much last year, but I’m riding the same bike on the same saddle.
There is no such thing as a “quick” ride. One can take a short ride of less than an hour, but I have yet to see my average speed surpass twenty-three kilometres per hour. From a bicycle seat, no matter how quickly one tries to go, it is always possible to smell the roses…. And Daisies, sweetgrass, spruce trees (pine and cedar too in most places except here) as well as freshly cut lawns, (my personal favourite) and for the most part, what people are having for their next meal!
While I don’t consider myself an accomplished rider, and often feel like I’m going to, as my friend said, “barf and cry,” I frequently hear people say. “I couldn’t do that.” I always tell them they could, with the “If I can do it, anyone can” reasoning. It’s astounding how many excuses they can come up with no matter how many I refute.
It amazes me how many people have dogs! On one ride recently, there were several dogs barking on both sides of the road simultaneously. Even the SPCA truck barked as it passed.
Atlantic Canada has its problems, but it doesn’t lack for natural beauty, or great places to ride. This time of year, the birds, butterflies, and flowers along the roadside are beautiful to behold, and in the case of the birds, listen to as well.
No matter how much I have to do at home, it will always be there when I finish my ride. Strangely, I frequently get more done when I ride than when I make excuses to not ride.
The temptation to explore is higher while cycling. It could be that we see the trails and roadways better at slower speeds and decide to see where they lead. I’ve noticed that as I travel slower, I have less need for speed and my urgency to get somewhere is less.
Even in consistency, there is change. The trees grow a little taller each year, the edge of the pavement chips away a little more, or is replaced, the flora goes through cycles and some species are replaced by others. People move out of houses and others move in. Houses are renovated, painted, siding gets added or replaced. In some cases, buildings burn down or are torn down. The landscape undergoes changes, gradually becoming something different.
Cyclists are friendly people. Maybe it’s due to our relatively low numbers or a shared activity , but when cyclists encounter other cyclists, there is most often a friendly smile and cheerful greeting. Perhaps it’s because we simply feel good out there and want to share our happiness. Cyclists are also less prone to road rage. It’s hard to be aggressive when rapid acceleration is impossible! Motorists, for the most part are not as friendly with each other. Mostly it’s a detached apathy that gets displayed, but aggressive behaviour is also frequent.
Finally, my bicycle is my friend and at times, my psychiatrist. She is my stress-buster, my confidant, and transportation. One does not need to be Lance Armstrong in order to ride a bike. One does not even need to spend a lot of money on lycra and a racing bike. One needs only to be comfortable in the clothes and on the bike one already has. Just get on your bike and go! It is always possible to improve your skills if it is something you want to get more serious about.