I rode my bike this evening. I would rather walk, but my sister-in-law Maryann has signed me up for a fundraising bike ride in two weeks. I tried several excuses, including, “Sorry, I’m running a marathon that day”, but she won’t leave me alone.
Here’s the truth of it; I don’t like bike riding. And, no, I can’t point to a traumatic biking incident (although I’ve had them) that created this attitude. I learned to ride a bike using the neighbor boy’s bike when I was 9 years old. My father was so pleased he surprised me with a new bike. As I remember it, the shiny blue bike surprised my mother, too. (That’s another story.) I rode up and down our long driveway and when we moved a few years later, I could travel for miles on gravel roads. In my early teens, the bike offered freedom. I took trips into town to visit friends and rode to the beach, balancing inner tubes and beach towels.
And I kept riding my bike, even after I was able to drive. I rode a bike in high school (a used bike that my father found for me the day after I won an academic award in 9th grade). Today, I’m riding the bike that I bought for university in 1977. (The frame is the only original part still in use.)
I connect my diminishing bike use, with my practice of walking. I started walking for exercise in my mid-twenties. Over the years, I’ve walked with friends and alone, through countless villages, towns and neighborhoods and in the midst of deep forests and broad beaches. I like walking better than biking.
When I ride a bike, I am more likely to fall over. I did this spectacularly a few years ago, when I hit my head on a telephone pole. Fortunately, I was wearing a helmet. I have never fallen over while walking.
When I ride a bike it’s hard to turn around and retrace an interesting route. I can’t just turn on my heel, I have to find a place wide enough to steer the bike around. (See falling over.)
When I ride a bike, it’s more challenging to stop and look at things. For instance, this evening I rode by a dead Mallard duck lying in the street near the curb. This is something I would normally stop to look at. There was a sign propped up against the curb. In angry, black strokes it read, “Slow Down”. There was an arrow pointing to the duck. Since the sign was leaning against the curb, I couldn’t tell if the sign was for the drivers and bikers or for the pedestrians and ducks. Unfortunately, I couldn’t think too long about this because I rolled by and saw a police officer talking to a man on a front porch, so I started thinking about that. When I’m walking I have time to consider more.
When I ride my bike, my walking routes no longer work. I have routes and I know how long it takes to walk them, 1 hour, 45 minutes, 25 minutes. With a bike, I cover a route and then ride some more and then some more. This means I have to think about where I’m going. (See having to turn around and falling over.) When I walk one of my routes, I’m free to think about other things.
For the next two weeks, I’m going to ride my bike. I’m going to put it on a bike rack and take it with me to visit relatives so I can keep riding it daily. I’ll ride my bike and raise some money for a charity.
And then, I’ll take a long walk and do some thinking.