I returned the rental car on Saturday after just one day and am now living car free in Ogden for the remainder of the week. Even though it’s cold and there’s snow on the lawns, the roads are clear and getting around by bike has been pretty easy. As I’ve ridden, I’ve been thinking about why I am doing this and decided it would be fun to share some of the reasons with you. Here they are in no particular order.
Health and Wellness
I lost a lot of weight and added a lot of years onto the back end of my life by riding a bike. Not just any old years, either…good, high quality of life years. Riding makes me feel better. Whenever I’m down or not quite right and go on a ride, I invariably feel better when I get home. It works every time.
Utah has some of the dirtiest winter air in the country. We live in a valley prone to temperature inversions that trap particulate matter close to the ground and make the air yucky. Since most of that particulate pollution is automobile-related, driving a bicycle instead of a car helps big time.
This is one of those unexpected benefits, but bicycling gives you the opportunity to say hi to people. It’s not just casual waves. Sometimes motorists will roll down the windows and talk while waiting for a red light. I like making new friends.
Sticking It To The Man
For as long as I can remember, I’ve resisted doing what I’m told I must. I don’t do this to be difficult. It’s just that I figured out a long time ago that it’s mostly about control and I was born to be free. What we get told more than anything else is that we have to borrow lots of money buy stuff like fancy cars that will impress those less fortunate and convince us that our lives are not as vapid and empty as we deep down fear they might be. No thanks.
It Stretches Time
You measure time differently when on a bike than in a car. Getting there isn’t half the fun…it’s all of the fun. As a result, you don’t feel this compelling need to rush. The journey is it’s own reward, right?
I’m not even close to being a hipster, but normal people who pass me in cars don’t always know that. I’ve boosted my hipster cred by buying an old beat up Kona Lava Dome that looks a little like a kid’s BMX bike. Yes, I know that most normal folks think I’ve simply lost my mind but those folks don’t matter. The ones who think I’m a hipster matter. I love them.
Flat tires are a pain on a bike, but they’re worse in a car. Try turning your car over to remove the wheel. It’s relatively easy on a bicycle. You can do it yourself on the side of the road. If you’re smart, you carry a spare tube and compressed air. If you’re me, you walk home with your bike and do it there. Either way is better than putting on a spare that is dangerous and three sizes too small and then spending an hour waiting while the tire gets fixed at the tire fixing place.
Bike racks are always up front. They’re even in front of handicapped, expectant mother and employee of the month spots. Here’s bicycle parking at Salt Lake City International Airport. It’s free, covered and on camera. You roll your bike off the Trax train, hang a right and there it is. If you parked your car this close to the terminal, it would be something like $50 a day. Judging by the number of bikes, it looks like lots of really smart people have figured this out.
When we get our own lanes, they’re seldom crowded. That means we spend less time idling and more time zooming. I like to zoom. Zooming is always a good thing. Green paint, too…very good.
Insane All Terrain
I don’t know when it happened but Jeeps now cost around $50,000. I remember when you could get a Ferrari for that. I’m not paying $50K for a Jeep but sometimes I like to go off road. New crossover or hybrid bikes make trading pavement for singletrack or vice versa a no brainer and now I do it with alarming regularity. Woo-hoo!
This is the best reason of all. I just get this incredible feeling of peace when I’m out on the bike, pedaling away. It has completely changed what it means to me to move around, and that, in turn has changed everything else.
That’s it. Get on your bike and ride. Have a great day!