Beyond Bike Month

Bike Month starts tomorrow.  I’m not sure how I feel about it.  On one hand, anything that encourages people to get out and cycle is good.  On the other hand, I’m not sure it sends the right message.    If cycling is so great (and it is), why just a month?

Vehicular cyclist in downtown Pittsburgh.  Not waiting for Bike Month.

Vehicular cyclist in downtown Pittsburgh. She’s not waiting for Bike Month.

Vehicular cyclist in downtown Indianapolis.  Not waiting for Bike Month.

Vehicular cyclist in downtown Indianapolis. He’s not waiting either.

Vehicular cyclists in suburban Salt Lake City.  You guessed it...not waiting for Bike Month.

Vehicular cyclists at a train station in suburban Salt Lake City. The time to cycle is now, tomorrow and forever.

I’d like to see the dialog move beyond “try it, you’ll like it.”  There are compelling reasons why we all should choose to cycle for transportation, especially when the trip is short.  We need to talk about these reasons.   They will resonate with reasonable people.  Cycling benefits the environment and our physical and mental health.  It is a solution to over-stretched fiscal budgets.  It is a societal healer.  Most people, given a choice, want to be part of the solution.  If we are able to explain it in very clear terms, I truly believe that they will join us.

Maybe Bike Month helps  and, if so, I’ll stand down.  I just don’t know with any degree of certainty because in a mere four weeks all the special events will be over and most of us will go back to doing what we’ve always done.  Does Bike Month create more vehicular cyclists?  Beats me…I’ve never seen the data.

When 2016 started, I decided that I’d try to ride every day this year.   It wasn’t a holy mission or anything like that.  I was curious. I wanted to see if I could do it and if so what sort of impact it would have on me and others I care about.

So far, so good.   We’re one-third of the way through the year and I’ve managed to get on my bike every single day.  My shortest day was just under five miles.  My longest was just over one hundred miles.  The other days have all been somewhere in between.  I average about twenty miles a day, more or less.  That’s not bad considering just two years ago I was eighty pounds overweight.

I’ve ridden through snow, on ice, through the rain, you name it.   I’ve ridden in Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.   I think I’d like to ride in every county in the lower forty-eight.  I have a map and when I ride in a county, I color it red.  I want to paint the whole map red.  It has never once been anything less than pure joy to hop on my bicycle and take off.   Lots of people talk about living the dream.  I really am living the dream.

Day 121:  It was colder and wetter than it looks.  Miserable cold, in fact, but also great fun.

Day 121: It was colder and wetter than it looks this morning. Miserable cold, in fact, but also great fun.  It’s always great fun.

Day 16.  The combination of glare ice and Ogden's hills made for an interesting six miles.

Day 16. The combination of glare ice and Ogden’s hills made for an interesting six miles.  I didn’t fall.

There’s no reason you can’t ride a bike every day if that’s what you want to do.  Others will tell you that you need to take a day off every now and then to let your body recover, but cycling doesn’t stress your body like other forms of exercise.  You don’t take a day off from walking, do you?  You don’t need to take a day off from cycling, either. You can get all the rest you need by slowing down or going fewer miles.  Listen to your body. It will tell you when you need to back off.

I hope you have a great Bike Month.  I hope you meet some new friends and start June even more excited about this wonderful way of moving around than you are now.  I hope that it serves as a catalyst for you and the people you love.

Most of all, I hope that you find a way beyond Bike Month.   I hope it is the start of a new Bike Age for you.  I hope you keep cycling into June and beyond.   I hope you never stop.  If you only bike for a month, nothing changes.  If you bike forever, everything changes…for the better.  That’s my wish for you and yours.  Happy Trails.

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