Biking Stimulates the Soul

Today I had to go into the doctor’s office for a diagnostic visit. No food, no drink, and all that. The appointment was mid-morning, located on the other side of town from my home. The car was really, really tempting – it is a cold and cloudy day in Chapel Hill. Last night I stayed up way too late doing some research. And I’ve caught some kind of cold from my kids. Overall, this combination doesn’t exactly lead to an optimistic outlook on life. I don’t know about you, but with me, when I don’t get enough sleep, everything seems more dramatic, and this morning I was feeling dramatic about things. The alarm rang, and I just lay there wishing I could go back to sleep. But, nope, the world called, and I had to drag my rear end out of bed, get showered, and get on my way.

All through getting ready, I debated about whether to take the car. The problem with taking the car is that I have no parking permit at work. One of those would cost me over $1,000 per year (seriously!). So I would have had to drive across town to the doctor and back, then park in a remote, expensive hourly parking lot far from my office.

I intentionally decided not to buy the parking permit, to force myself to ride the bike more. It is just too easy to get in the car some mornings if everything is so convenient. On mornings like today, I sometimes wonder about that decision.

But anyway, I decided the hassles of driving would have equaled the hassles of hopping on the bike when it was all added up, so I took the bike – my electric assist “Big Dummy” (who comes up with those names?).

The first 5 minutes or so on the bike I continued to be in a bit of a sour mood, and feeling a bit chilly. But then the blood started flowing. Pedaling was therapy. As I pedaled on I forgot about my woes, and started enjoying the sights and smells of the morning. It helped a lot to have my eZee electric assist this morning – that made all the difference, because I was able to fly across town in time to make my appointment. And I wasn’t in the mood for major exertion today. I did pedal, I always do, because I like to. But just the light pedaling was enough to warm up my body and my mood.

I got to the doctors office, and am sitting here writing this in the waiting room. I’m in a far better mood now, and very glad I biked. I wouldn’t have been so cheery if I’d driven. Driving almost never lifts my mood. It makes me wonder about the whole concept of convenience. Does comfort and convenience equal happiness? I think there’s a fine line. Certainly some comfort and convenience is good. But for me personally, if I have too much comfort and convenience in my life, it just ends up leading to a sort of numbness. Maybe that’s what Roger Waters was writing about in the song “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd. I thrive on challenges – at least small ones – and I think many people do.

This reminds me of a Cycle 9 customer named Rick. He’s a really fun guy. He’s a professor and doctor whose hobbies are sailing, flying and building airplanes, and now, electric bikes. Rick got interested in e-bikes back when Cycle 9 was operating out of a small rented warehouse space with dirt floors. We built him up a customized e-bike with a hub motor that can do some incredible speeds (I’m not going to mention them here, because I don’t want to get Rick in trouble with the local authorities). He really needs those speeds for his situation. He lives in a place with no good bike route to work. Around his neighborhood the biking is good. And around his university the biking is reasonable. But there’s a section in between where the only connector road is an almost 1-mile stretch of very busy highway, with a 45mph speed limit (meaning cars travel 55mph). Some bike advocates would say – well, just ride like a vehicle and occupy that lane. I’d say to them that one would be crazy to do that. Rick does it this way. At the one traffic light before this stretch of bad road, he waits for all the traffic to go through. Then he guns the throttle and flies down the road as fast as he can, to get past “the gauntlet” before the light cycles and lets the next group of cars through. It works, most of the time (I saw him alive and well last week!).

Rick clearly likes challenges. It might be the easier thing for him to drive everyday given the location of his home and work. But he chooses to bike. So do many other folks I know, an ever increasing number. I’m glad that I’m not the only one these days out there riding. And I’m glad for days like this that riding the bike puts me in a much better mood.

And by the way, the doctor’s test was fine.

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