Most of my life in Atlanta, I have not had a car. I've relied on walking, uber, public transportation, and (most importantly) my beloved bike. It wasn't until about 7 months ago that I finally gave in and bought my mom's old Buick Rendezvous. And when this vehicle made its way into my life, so did something else: convenience.
Convenience, sometimes, is really good. Laundry, groceries, and big purchases became much easier. And not only that, but if I didn't feel like riding my bike to work, or out to dinner with friends I no longer had to. It's been a blessing in this way-we as humans evolved to love convenience. But I saw myself starting to cherish convenience more than what biking used to give me: connection.
When you're on your bike, you become connected to everything around you. You no longer are encased by a big metal container, but you are thrown into your environment. You breathe in fresh air, and you breathe in smog and pollution. You smell fresh bread, coffee, grilled meat, and pastries arising from local restaurants. You see everyone's faces, hear everyone's music, and witness just about everyone texting and driving. You experience the roughness or smoothness of the road underneath your tires, making its way up your frame, finally onto the palms of your hands through your handlebars. Your senses are heightened, because they have to be. It's energizing, life-giving, and mind-clearing.
I was really reminded of this in the last couple of weeks.
Unfortunately, one of my friends was hit by a bus during her bike ride home a couple of weeks ago. She's doing well and is recovering from the accident, but can't move around freely, let alone get back on a bike. Yet even still, after this terrible accident, she speaks so fondly of riding her bike. She longs to experience that sensory experience of riding a bike through the city again, and referred to it yesterday as "the most freeing feeling in the world".
This really put things into perspective for me. All of those times that I choose convenience; all of those times that I let my anxiety and worry tell me "you don't have time to ride your bike to work" or "it would be easier just to drive" or "you can just ride your bike tomorrow"...all of those times, I'm doing a disservice to my primal need to move and be connected to my environment. What if one day I couldn't? What if one day my ability to experience life in this visceral way was taken away from me, even if it was temporarily?
So, for this, and so many other reasons, I choose to ride my bike. To me, my bike represents a sense of freedom and agency I have in my life to move, to feel, to experience.
And on this National Bike to Work Week, (or any other week for that matter) I would encourage you to challenge your love of convenience. Give yourself a little bit more time to get to where you need to go, and bike there. Make it a visceral, sensory experience. And if you don't have a bike, walk! Anything to get yourself our of the little safety bubble that is your car and out into the world in which you live. Give thanks to your environment for taking care of you by truly enjoying it in all of its glory. And don't take one moment of that bike ride for granted.
***A special thanks goes out to Patagonia for giving back, and encouraging its communities to ride their bikes to work!