Friday, March 21, 2008

Riding Motivation

City cycling

I know some people out there like birds. This one was being loud on a branch outside my window yesterday. I don't know what it is. It was smallish; between a jay and a crow. Sharp-shinned hawk? Cooper's hawk? Anyone?...

Anyway, back to bikes.

And motivation. Commute By Bike posted about motivation a few days ago. I was feeling too unmotivated to respond. It was gray and cold. And then, it suddenly got really nice for a few days, and I was motivated to do other things; things that have nothing to do with bicycles; like looking at hawks!

Motivation is a funny thing. I fully realize and dutifully preach the many benefits of urban cycling:

  • economy
  • sustainability
  • health and fitness
  • stress reduction
  • possible time savings
  • improved quality of life
  • fun and enjoyment
  • ... (insert your own)

Yet, I can't say that any of these really and truly motivate me. To be perfectly honest, I consider myself a rather reluctant cyclist. I hate being told I should bike. The fastest way to discourage me from using my bike is to invoke any and all of the practical reasons to do so.

If you want to get me on my bike, just tell me, or imply, that I can't.

Although I don't consider myself an adventurer, when I really and honestly think about it, what gets me really excited about riding my bike is the challenge of doing the opposite of what everyone says. If it is a beautiful, sunny day, I might choose to hang out on my front stoop and point my camera zoom at a hawk.

However, when it is drizzly and cold, I may just decide to ride my bike over to that educational supply store in Skokie that always seems too far out of the way. I may take the long way to avoid major streets. And, as long as I'm going there, why not pop into the second hand bookstore on the way back? I might take major streets this time just to prove it can be done. I may stray off course to pick up some provisions for dinner, too.

I enter these establishments without bothering to remove my helmet, not too worried about my red, rain-spattered cheeks, or the mud streak on the back of my jacket, or my soaked boots (although I do make some effort to wipe my nose, just in case). Sometimes I feel like there is an aura around me as I shop among the mere mortals who arrived in their SUV, and who never get to experience the glory of the elements.

So, pardon me, if I sometimes preach. It's a professional habit. It's part of my job of getting more people on more bikes more often.

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