Friday, May 2, 2014

Just Ride Already, Will You?

I posted on April 11th that I've been struggling with returning to riding. It was a long winter and I was still recovering from a nasty chest cold when daylight savings time rolled back around. And then I ran out of excuses, but I still didn't ride. I feel like I've spent the better part of the past six weeks looking at the two bicycles in my living room (Fleur and The Radish) as if I don't know how they work. None of it makes sense. I really want to ride, and yet for some reason, the idea of commuting to work or church is met with a huge wall of emotional resistance.

Riders' Block, if you will.



In some ways, I sort of wonder if ignorance was bliss last year. I read a lot of blogs like Lovely Bike and LGRAB and Simply Bike, where the message is just ride; it's not scary, it's fun! And so, I did. As I started cycling, I rediscovered my Twitter account and have started following a lot of other avid cyclists, many of whom are staunch advocates for ditching the car entirely, for infrastructure improvements, and for shaping the car vs. bike discussion in any manner of ways. I devoured as much as I could in order that I might discover tips and tricks, or avoid problems other riders had encountered. And when there was something that frustrated a rider, I could sometimes revel in the idea that things that weren't easy or pleasant for me weren't always easy or pleasant for others.

Perhaps it was continuing to digest all of this information during months when cycle commuting felt out of the question - icy, hilly roads with heavy and rapid traffic patterns, and a sun that insisted on setting before I would get up in the morning or leave the office in the evening - but it started to feel complicated.

It's not complicated. My brain is trying to make it tricky, but it simply isn't. I just need to ride.

So today's post is in preparation of three bike-related events I have coming up in the next week or so:

  1. I'm taking a fun ride with Melissa this weekend;
  2. I'm taking a Cycling Savvy class (at Melissa's gentle suggestion) next week; and 
  3. I'm going on the local Cycling Savvy bike ride next weekend.
I am looking forward to having a reason to get on the bike, and frankly, someone to keep me company. Melissa and I will be exploring the frustrating parts of my bike-to-work route and trying some possible alternatives. And, while I've made it clear in prior posts that I'm on the side of protected bike lanes and more cycling infrastructure (I don't particularly enjoy riding with or in traffic), there are parts of St. Louis City and County where you must engage in vehicular cycling, and becoming more familiar and more comfortable in that role will hopefully kick the anxiety portion of my not. riding. Finally, a group ride will hopefully help to connect me with other riders in my local community (and perhaps, other relative beginners).

So, a shout-out to Melissa, because whether she realizes it or not, she's really the rallying force that's getting me back on the saddle, and soon. 



Let's go for a ride.

x

4 comments:

  1. I like your plan, and the events that you've signed yourself up for. Glad to hear you've someone like Melissa to encourage you as you get back on the bike.

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  2. Ah, thank you both! I agree. I truly suspect that once I just do it, I'll be fine. I'm just too far into my head at this point. Won't be the first or last time this happens.

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  3. You know, there have been a couple of times that it's been hard for me to get back in the saddle again. It's really easy to let fear get the better of you. But here's the thing - NOTHING in life is completely safe. People get killed in cars every day, or as pedestrians, or by slipping and falling in the bathtub!

    When I've been in the place of fear it really helped to have other people to ride with, and somehow hearing everybody else's horror stories, and realizing that they lived through it and are still out there riding helped. It also helped to allow myself to do some recreational riding on paths where I felt safe - the more of that I do, the less I'm afraid of other kinds of riding.

    Your plan sounds like an excellent one to me!

    xoxoxo,
    Cat

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