Not Evangelism

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cycling Because I Choose To

Some days I don't cycle to work and wish I had. Some days I commute on my bike and wish I hadn't.

Most days, of course, it's somewhere in between; that happy combination of cycling and being glad that I did. Or - and this is important too - choosing not to cycle and being comfortable with the reasons for that decision.

Last week, the weather forecast for a particular morning had been pretty straightforward: it was going to be wet. The forecast map showed great blue swathes of rain all over my commuting route, right around the time I'd be out and about.

But forewarned is forearmed. I had time to prepare mentally, to gird my loins as it were. And my wet weather gear is always at hand, so in the morning I didn't delay in getting dressed up and saddled up. And you know what? As usual, the weather wasn't so bad, certainly not as bad as my imagination and fears might have made it. The rain was more like a lazy drizzle; and infrequent at that, very light rather than that persistent penetrating stuff. The ride was, in short, straightforward.

Even better, most of the ride was gloriously easy; I was nipping at the heels of that beautiful cadence, zipping along. Smiling. When the voices are trying to talk me out of cycling, I forget the pleasure of cycling in the morning, the simple joy of being out in the fresh air rather than sitting in a metal box. But when I'm out on my bike I remember that there's a real satisfaction in ignoring the voices and cycling.

A good morning ride, then. I was happy to have cycled.

On the way home, the weather was less pleasant. The rain was heavier, the wind less favourable, veering from a sidewind to a headwind that stripped away my speed and sapped my energy.

But I was homeward bound, and the homeward journey is always easier than the outward. The certain knowledge of a warm house and warmer shower, of dry clothes and maybe a gin and tonic, buoyed me up. Besides, what were my choices now? I had to get home, and cycling was the only way.

And I was happy to be cycling. Whenever the conditions are a little bit adverse, I'm always pleased and proud that I made the decision to cycle. Pleased that I ignored the doubting voices, the persuasive little whispers that suggest I leave the bike and use the car. On this occasion, the weather had tried to talk me out of cycling and lost. Oh, there was a little bit of that wouldn't it be nice if it was dry and sunny but I was cycling and glad of it.

In some respects, a ride in bad weather is better than a sunny ride in glorious weather. To have overcome a little adversity, a little struggle, is uplifting. I arrived home wet, but unbowed. Quietly triumphant. Happy.

And that's wonderful.

When the choice is not to cycle and risk wishing that I had, or to cycle and risk wishing I hadn't, it's a simple decision. Wet or dry, windy or still, I'd choose to cycle.

Because here's the thing: unless I actually get on my bike and cycle, I'll only ever be wishing that I had. And more often - far more, actually - I cycle and am glad that I did.

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