Update: Biking to Work

Warning: long post ahead. But I’m spilling my guts so you may be interested. Or not 🙂  IMG_9155I’ve gotten a couple requests and questions about my bike riding challenge to myself for Lent. And yeah, maybe I asked for that update since I wrote about it all here. I went public. So now, I owe y’all a follow up. Go ahead. Take a look at how cute and motivated I was. #wishfulthinking

Alright, here’s the deal. I went against all of the Twitter naysayers and all of my inner fears with this lent-bike riding thing. “Columbia is a terrible biking city”, “be careful! people die all the time getting hit in Columbia”, “wear a helmet!” and so on…

So let me go ahead and say openly and honestly, I stopped. I rode regularly for 3 weeks. And it wasn’t easy. The ride itself…not tough. 3.7 miles. It was definitely an adjustment in more ways than one, and here were my major barriers. Oh, let me also say, I don’t feel bad or guilty about my riding (or lack thereof). I’ve felt a couple ways since the day I got a flat tire and then…waited a week or two to fix it…and then, stopped riding.

What are some of those thoughts/feelings? Some of my thoughts have been, ” well crap…I failed” and “you don’t have to be DONE DONE yet…” followed shortly by, “Phewph! I don’t have to sweat my way through my first 30 minutes at work” and “yes! I can have time for yoga and coffee in the morning again”.em's party 006Here are a couple of my truths. I found that I was more quiet, thoughtful and intentional on the mornings that I didn’t ride to work. I had time to wake with ease, get in a quick run or some yoga, rinse, make a smoothie and hit the road, listening to my book or NPR on the way to work. Bike riding completely changed all of that–and so instead of enjoying my time in nature, being all green and healthy…I resented it. Was it also because the riding was a new adjustment? Sure. But riding my bike made my whole routine change. And that isn’t easy for me, or probably for most people.  Riding made me plan my work outfits the night before, lay them out, ignore accessories (not nearly as fun), pack them in a bag in the morning, hope for few-wrinkles, hope I packed face wipes and deodorant, OOH, and my makeup bag, rush out the door with my un-sipped coffee, skip my AM workout because I won’t have time, ride on non-bike-friendly roads, and then get to work feeling rushed and off-kilter. Not the best way (for me) to start the day.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this as a discipline and a personal project, and that’s what it is, personal. So, if you’re thinking, “man, she’s married to a priest (and therefore should be a ROLE MODEL for lent…hah!) AND she failed at her lenten discipline?!”…I have nothing to say to you but, “YEP”. Hopefully no one was actually thinking that, I’d really hate to let y’all down…

IMG_9304But what I can say since I stopped. Here goes: I got a flat on my way home 3-4 weeks in. And walked 3 miles home with my bike. And decided to listen to my audio book while I walked (which I can’t do while I ride b/c I need to be able to hear). I thought to myself, “man, I don’t even want to fix this flat tire”. I’m enjoying this walk more than the ride. I’m relaxed. I’m STILL in nature. I’m calm. I’m not scared for my life riding through 5 points. Ya know what, I’m okay with this. So, that was that–kind of subconsciously at the time, but I procrastinated 2 weeks before fixing my flat tire (knowing full well that if I fixed the tire, I may be confronted with the little nudge that I SHOULD ride again, because I said I would, because “Lent” said so… not because I wanted to). So I fixed the tire, and continued to not ride.

So what now? I get up and enjoy my morning. I take quiet time to get eased in to each day…calmly and slowly…which is exactly what I need.IMG_8827



16 thoughts on “Update: Biking to Work

  1. Good post. I enjoy biking to work when the weather’s nice. My commute is about 16 miles. Long enough for a good workout. I will only do it twice a week, because it is a pain to plan everything ahead. Not to mention the surprise afternoon thunderstorms.

    • Yeah, I will definitely continue to bike some days. It’s nice being outside and I enjoy the act of biking. But the prep and the time taken from my morning routine is definitely difficult for me! 16 miles, that’s impressive!

    • I definitely could not trade in the car for the bike everyday. I plan to do it randomly from here on out–it’s a nice thing to do when the weather is nice and I’m not rushing. It just involves more prep that I never really got a handle on.

  2. This is fascinating. I ride my bike to work as well, but I feel like it calms me down. When I’m in my car, I feel frantic because of traffic. When I ride to work, I can breathe a little and clear my head — same for the bike ride home. It’s my time to de-stress. But I can definitely see where you’re coming from. It takes more time and planning to ride to work every day. Great post! (One time, I tried giving up the elevator for Lent, but then I got a job on the 35th floor of a building. I definitely didn’t even attempt that climb 😉 )

    • Hah! Glad I’m not alone in some aspects. Thanks for the comment. I definitely enjoyed the ride when I rode…wind in my hair and NOT having music/traffic/noise from the car was a nice change. Is it something I could do everyday, don’t think so. But will I continue some days, I hope so!

  3. Well said Bean! As a fellow struggler of biking to work, I’m right there with you on many of these things – lots of adjustments to make. Either way you’ve done well with it – AND you’ve been changed by it!

    • Aw, you just HAVE to say that! Just kidding. I’m proud of you for really keeping it up! It’s hard though, and besides being semi-lazy, I think I just want my morning time to not be rushed 🙂

  4. Beano – totally relate to what you’ve said here. Biking is TRES stressful in a non biking friendly city and it is hard to relax when you know ain’t nobody lookin’ for no bike rider. Pretty much the only friend I have who bikes and can relax on the way to work can do most of it along a river path. In PA. Which gets hot in the summer but has a long, chilly season of about 8-10 months that keeps down the sweat.

    I’m a huge fan of walking (I walk to work now, because it’s under a mile and the days are long enough that I can walk when it’s light out and not get freaked out by the bushes/empty parking lots, although close encounters with cars can still throw zen right out the window), but even that doesn’t always cut it. I summered down in Buenos Aires (aka winter in S.A.) during law school and walked to work and back about three and half miles each way. Although the exercise was great, the relaxation was not, because you still have to be quick footed across intersections to avoid cabs and buses, and in a city, even when you’re not sweating, you show up with dust on your face. And it sucked up a LOT of hobby time. I think back on that time and about how tense I was because of that dang commute –

    Basically, this is a rambly way to say – no judgment here! Enjoy your posts and your honesty, as always –


    • Ronnie, thank you so much for your insight. It’s amazing what we learn about ourselves when we take an intention minute (or ten) to really reflect in what we do and what is important. Thanks!

  5. It seems like this experience taught you a lot, which is great! I can see what it would be really important to start your day off centered! Grace and more grace to you!

  6. I give you credit for trying and knowing it was time to stop. I’m 3.67 miles from work and when the weather’s nice I try to ride one or two days a week, but it’s nice having the option not to. Fridays are good because it’s jean day and those are easier to pack; Mondays are shot, because I need to drive to tutoring. Today was a no-go because I need to make a stop on the way home. Etc.

    What I desperately want is for Columbia to become a bike-friendly city: I’d give anything for a paved bike path connecting major hubs of town (Forest Acres -> Rosewood -> 5 points -> Vista -> Main St?)

    • Making Columbia bike-friendly would be a huge help! I was in Chapel Hill a few weeks ago and was able to run 5+ miles on their cities bike path–it went everywhere! Guess SC isn’t too concerned with things like that :/ but glad I’m not alone!

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