George Carlin took issue with the proverb, "you learn something new everyday." He said, "actually, you learn something old every day. Just because you just learned it, doesn't mean it's new."
Bike commuting is not new, but it's something I haven't had much opportunity to do in 14 years of ministry. My commutes ranged from 15 to 400 miles round trip to the congregations I've served. Auto commutes appear to inhibit health, and my health skied (more like rolled) on the downward slope of the bell curve.
Eighteen months of 10-20 hours in the car per week in 2009-10 pushed me over the edge, and my family made a conscious choice for change in a positive direction. Among other reasons, we moved for drastically reduced commutes, more time at home, more time outside. Bike commuting scared me with all the equipment and enthusiasts crowding the bike paths. Rather than look the part with spandex and reflective gear, I acted toward playing the part.
Get on the road.
Last week I covered my first 20 mile commute to an appointment. With that milestone, I've collected some not so new observations. Just because my observations aren't new, I hope to inspire my fellow biking neophytes who aren't quite sure what they're doing take the next step they need.
+ I may not get around town quickly on my mountain bike, but for urban traversing, it's the best way to maneuver potholes, bike lanes that turn into gravel piles, and sudden steep curbs.
+ I add equipment gradually. My avocation style tends toward all-in too early, then I end up selling a bunch of unused equipment for pennies on the dollar. My best equipment so far has been a helmet (of course), fenders, gloves, and some vertical handle bars. Now that I've been biking 30+ miles per week for over two months, I've added safety/vision lights, a reflective jacket, and some portable/flexible reflective strips.
+ I see the neigborhoods and city much differently than from a car. I see more people, and occasionally stop to talk with them. Perspective matters.
+ Though I end up going to some of my appointments with sweat on my brow, the oxygen increase to my brain lifts my mental dexterity to new levels. Though I didn't like it at first, the trade is worthwhile and the quality of interaction elevates. The exertion lifts my mood.
After 14 years of mostly long commutes, I finally have a year where my health is trending in a positive direction. Working with my bike becomes not only an opportunity for good financial stewardship (using less gas, cheaper repairs on equipment), but better stewardship of the body God gave me. That is hopeful in itself. I'm not here to give you something new, but a testimony in what the commuting shift has done for me.