Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bike Commute 2011 - Day 15 & My Ethos

Yes, my ethos.  I'm sure those that know me are saying to yourselves, "well of course he has an ethos."  And those that know me know that I am going to explain it with a little story.

My wife told me that he car was in a bad way, so Saturday we took it into the shop.  While we were there I noticed a Daily Herald laying there and this article was on top.  Hey, another guy in Mundelein who bikes to work. Wow, he has done it since '91, and wow he bikes 15 miles each way.  He works at a bike shop.

Well, duh.  He bikes to work and he works at a bike shop.  It's great for him and all.  It's a great example, but it's a bit of a no-brainer.

It got me to thinking.  I am not a cyclist who rides to work.  I am a person who goes to work on a bike.  I have friends who do triathalons.  They don't ride to work, but if they did they would be cyclists who ride to work.  I'm sure they would wear cyclist clothes, they would push themselves; but they would probably not ride their best bike and not count it as a proper cycling workout.  I am assuming here, but I think that would be their ethos.  I could be wrong, but it's the impression I get from cyclists.

I also get the impression that I am not one of them.  They don't give me that impression and I don't feel I belong.  I'm not serious enough, but ironically, it's because I don't treat it as a sport.

I don't like the sport of cycling.  I don't like racing in general, but I really have no interest in long distance racing.  I find close course cycle racing a bit more interesting, but it's certainly not a sport in which I want to participate.  Mountain biking sounds challenging, but I wouldn't want to race.

I like getting around on a bike.  I like the "being there" that I talked about in earlier posts.  I like being Earth-friendly in a way that is enjoyable.  I like dabling in the "gear" but only as deep as I want to go, which is probably akin to sitting on the dock and dangling my feet.  I like providing my own propulsion.  I like the extra exercise that I can get almost free (very little extra time or effort).  I like being able to do all this and still provide the same level of work, with no special compensation.  I like the idea that if I didn't want anyone to know I could bike commute almost invisibly.

I think of a bike as a vehicle or a tool, not as a toy or a sport.  In English we don't have a word for someone who using a bike like this.  I don't know if they do in other languages.  In English when you say someone is a cyclist it means they participate in a cycling sport.  If you say someone is a driver it doesn't mean they are a race car driver.

I'm not complaining, really I'm not.  I'm observing.  It's interesting and I think different and subtle.  I'm trying to define it.

When I see photos of people in other countries riding bikes to work, like Japan, China, the Netherlands or Denmark, I think, that's like me.  Those people have pretty much the same attitude towards biking that I do.  In this article of the Top 11 Bicycle Friendly Cities in the World, four of them are in the US.  There are lots of bike commuters there, but I really don't feel like I belong in that group.  I feel like an outsider.

Have I forced myself outside, or have I been forced outside?  I don't know, but I do that I feel apart, and it's probably mostly because of my attitude and my ethos.

My super-special, eco-amorous commuting bag
IN -

Monday, yes Monday. Had to take the Mrs. car into the shop on Saturday. When the mechanic asked if we could leave it she really didn't blink, she just asked, "Is that alright?" She didn't ask if I could ride to work or treat it like an extra special favor, but just if it were alright.

Previously we really didn't talk about it much. She treated it as a sort of folly of mine that she tolerated, but now it seems to be a given.

It was warm this morning and the air was dry, but the street was wet.

Last night I had to make a special trip to bring my clothes for the week (since I didn't take the car today to bring my stuff). It was raining so hard that I had to wait for it to let up and stop hailing before I could DRIVE to work. I'm so glad that was all over before I left this morning.


Three words, WIND, mud and gas. Traveling at 12mph into a 20mph headwind means I go 8mph backwards? I felt like it. Seriously, it was a terrible headwind and I was fighting it the whole way.

On top of that, it had rained so hard last night that there was still standing water on some of the trail. Ironically, other parts have such good drainage that they were dusty, but that wasn't as bad as the water and mud. I had to go off the trail onto the grass about a dozen times to keep out of standing water and another half dozen I rode through mud that I didn't realize was there or couldn't avoid. Remember the pictures of Blackie mud spattered? That was today again.

And gas, I had a stomach ache stabbing me and threatening to explode. Maybe I'm sharing too much, but it was uppermost on my mind, when I wasn't thinking about the wind, or the mud/water.

It all added up to a long and exhausting ride home, so I topped it off with mowing the back yard and working on planting a new tree in the front yard. Did I mention that I'm on a team competing to have the most hours of work outs this month?


Trailz said...

um, er...
I'm in Lake Bluff, and think we share very much a similar ethos. I caught onto your blog last night, and bookmarked it immediately. I find your posts to share a refreshing perspective. Also, you've got my true respect. Not for your daily commuting (even I can do that - and do), but for your service to our country. That deserves (inner) props.

Inner Prop said...

Thank you very much for your props.

I'm glad you ride too and enjoy the posts as well.