Wednesday, November 14, 2012

winter + riding

I mentioned in a previous post, when I rode in the Gran Fondo, that riding a bike on the same road that you’ve travelled by car is a completely different experience.  Well, the same can be said for bicycle commuting.

I find when I commute to work via public transportation, I put my head down and trudge along.  Don’t get me wrong: the mixture of reading or playing iPhone word games is relaxing and de-stressing.  But the focus is mostly on what I'm doing and not what is around me.

When I commute on my bike, it is a completely different experience - almost like it’s not a commute.  Even though I have a destination and a focus, there is still time to stop and smell the proverbial roses.  I notice things I would never normally notice on my commute - when a road/path gets repaved; the interesting differences between mist, drizzle and rain; new house construction or renovations;  the best places to pick blackberries; the different colours and smells that accompany each season.  And the amazing thing is that I can think more clearly through work or kid issues as I'm riding.  I've actually been able to come up with solutions that eluded me in my usual day-to-day.  I get to see things in a whole different way on my bike.

The other day, I was riding along one of my favourite parts of my usual bike route - a tree canopy along a driveway entrance to a park in Vancouver.  It was during one of my morning rides - an atypically cold, crisp and dry autumn morning in Vancouver (love it!).  It promised to be a gorgeous, sunny day, but at that moment there was still fog in the air.  My tree canopy of red, orange and yellow leaves still covering the trees but also covering the ground was veiled with a layer of fog.  It was so beautifully mysterious that I had to stop for a moment and look around.  In that moment, despite the rainy days, dark nights and generally cold and hazardous conditions, I was reminded why I appreciate riding my bike through the winter in Vancouver.

And while I'm talking about things I appreciate while winter riding: I've had a few weeks of riding on streets covered with soggy leaves (not unlike the leaf-covered road below).  It is difficult to not tense up as I approach a corner on my bike and see nothing but soggy-leaf-covered road ahead - trying to prepared (but never fully being prepared) in case I lose my bike from underneath me in the middle of a turn.    So, I can safely say, I haven't appreciated the removal of soggy leaves from city streets as much as I do when I'm riding my bike.  Thanks very much to the city's leaf collectors for making my winter ride a little less butt-clenching!


Alexa said...

Nicely put - especially part about appreciating the difference between mist, drizzle and rain. I know what you mean. And I ride through that beautiful park too - lovely!

Chris Go said...

good for you Yvette! looking at the image, I can totally see how that road can be a butt-clencher :) I recently registered in the bike to work website to track my trips to and from work on my bike :)