Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Reasons for not riding...and dealing with the guilt

No ride to work today due to the miserable weather. It was just
above freezing when I got up, and the north wind was hammering
the rain into my bedroom window - hard. Still, I felt puny and
weak. A 'real' cyclist would be out in such weather, I'm sure.
I would ride in daylight in these conditions, but I'm not
comfortable - that is, I don't feel safe - in the dark and rain.

There are lots of reasons to avoid riding. Weather seems to be
mine. Other people tell me, "I'd ride to work too but it's too
hot/too cold/too windy/too many cars. I'd sweat/stink/look bad."
You get the idea. So why is it that I feel guilty for NOT riding
when it's freezing out there?

My friend Sandra describes herself as car-lite. She uses it when
necessary, but relies on her bicycle for most transportation
needs. I haven't quite reached that point yet, probably because
I'm the family chauffeur in the evenings. I drive kids hither
and yon. That will all change when my oldest gets her driver's
license, of course, but it introduces a whole new set of problems
(and worries) that any parent of a teenager will recognize.

I don't want my kids to grow up thinking that automobiles are a
central part of adult life. At work, I hear constant chatter
about cars. Granted, I work with a group composed mostly of men,
but I cannot understand the fixation on motor vehicles.
Furthermore, I find the grasping materialism of buying more and
more 'things' very depressing. The idea seems to be that "if
only I can buy myself a (fill in the blank), I'll be happy."

"Buying new stuff holds out the promise of transformation,
self-improvement, happiness. When the feeling wears off, as it
inevitably does, we buy more stuff."........
Joan Ryan, "Culture
of More Often Brings Less", Tulsa World, 1/5/05.

It took me far to long to realize that buying things wouldn't
bring happiness or a sense of fulfillment. Writing, however,
does bring a sense of accomplishment. Riding a bicycle to work
and back doesn't have that same feeling. I don't do it for the
environment, or political reasons, or to figuratively thumb my
nose at the consumer culture as represented by all those cars on
the road. No, I do it because it's fun! And since I'm solidly
into middle-age, I don't pass up those chances for fun!


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