Ode to the Bike: Spinning from Stress to Serenity
It’s going to be one of those days. You just know it. The first inkling came at midnight when you were startled awake by the shrillest alarm ever invented. What on earth? Oh yeah. You remember the three-year-old contentedly standing quietly next to the clock earlier in the day. You should have paid attention.
Your day hasn’t even started and the kids are fighting, the coffee is gone, and the dog has barfed in the heating vent. Again. Weatherman says there’s a fifty percent chance of rain, but you already know that on a day like today, those odds are higher. You’re already running late when you notice the front of your bike listing in a manner that smugly says, “You know that glass you thought you missed on yesterday’s commute? Well, you didn’t.” And so you give up on riding and grab the car keys.
Or try to, anyway. After 15 minutes of searching, and 5 minutes spent wishing you’d taken that key-clapper infomercial more seriously, you give up looking. A new tube, then another new tube that you promise not to catch between the rim and the tire again, and enough pumping to make you winded (which isn’t nearly as much as you’d hoped it would be), and you’re finally out the door, kids in tow.
And with the first stroke of the pedal, the morning’s misfortunes fall away. You breathe. You pedal. You glide. The calming sounds of wheels spinning interjected by the giggles of kids—the undeniable experts on fun—grounds you. At the red light, you really truly engage with your kids for the first time this morning. You point out the backhoe at the construction site. A firetruck whizzes by. The light turns. The conversation is put on hold.
You know you’ll pick it back up at the next red light, which you’re lucky enough to catch within three blocks. You can’t ever remember feeling this lucky to miss a green light while driving to work. You breathe in the fresh air and wonder if losing your keys wasn’t the luckiest part of your day.
You drop the kids off at school and accidentally bonk helmets with the youngest as you hug goodbye. On the way to work, the clouds open up, but the cool rain feels good on your hot skin. This is exactly why you keep that change of clothes at work.
Another bike commuter passes you, and you step it up. The two of you leapfrog the rest of the way until you peel off into your office parking lot. You feel a major sense of satisfaction when you see a strange bike locked to the rack and realize your coworker wasn’t just making small talk when asking all those bike questions last week.
You head into work with a fresh perspective, the morning’s calamities washed away by the rain and the ride. That positive outlook propels you through a few drone teleconferences in which everyone agrees to postpone all decisions until the next teleconference. You (surprisingly) don’t mind that the guy in the cubicle next to yours decided his new favorite lunch is hot tuna sandwiches.
Before you know it, the hour hand is getting closer to five, and you can’t wait to change into your slightly damp ride clothes and get completely lost in the serenity of spinning. Not such a bad day after all.
Kristin Butcher is a freelance writer based out of Boulder, Colorado, she spends her time writing about people, the outdoors and, of course, bikes. You can read her column, Butcher Paper, in BIKE Magazine.
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