What fuels you? What drives you? Literally think about what gets you from place to place. Often we think of our car taking us from destination, but I believe we underestimate the power of our feet and legs.
With the coming of spring, I’ve been spending more time on two wheels instead of four. Choosing my 18 pound vehicle over my 4,000 pound vehicle. Burning fat cells in my body instead of extracted fuel from the earth. And it has, again, shifted my perspective. On days that I ride, it is important to take time and effort to make a fueling meal because I know that is what will carry me through my ride. Give my muscles the oxygen and bloodflow they need to push up that grueling hill. The fuel I put into my body allows me to be alert, feel the bumps in the gravel, swerve around that big branch. That sense of feeling the energy course through your veins.
When I am on my bike this time of year, I feel every part of spring coming alive. The soil below is alive with activity and I love riding through the parks near me, often on gravel trails. The wind hitting my face, the grip of the trail giving me traction from a recent spring rain…it is such a powerful feeling. Every time the wheels start rolling I feel myself on a new journey, even if its a path I have ridden times before.
Unfortunately, that feeling can never be matched in a car. I’ve begun to really think about this, how the human experience differs so much in active transportation (walking, biking etc.) versus “passive” transportation (cars). Our cars are so good at reliably and quickly getting us from point A to point B. The destination is our focus, but the journey holds little value. What senses do you activate when driving your car? Sight, primarily. The metal box blocks the outside world and you simply become transfixed on the road ahead. The mind becomes occupied thinking about the traffic that is going to hold you up, or wondering how your going to finish that project on time at work. You are in the past, or already projecting yourself in the future.
When biking or walking? Your senses become alert and alive – Sight, sound, smell, touch. You take in the world around you. We are told to be more mindful and focus on the present, and I believe the bicycle is one way to achieve that. It is an opportunity to disengage from the internal mental chatter and engage our outward senses to experience what is around us.
What am I trying to get at here? Spreading my own experiences about bicycling is an effort to get others on their bike, to replace even just one car ride with a bike trip. You don’t have to bike to work everyday, but I promise you that your perspective will “shift” when you bike to meet friends for lunch, or recreate on park trails on the weekend. You will be one less car – therefore reducing congestion and pollution, even if just by a little bit. One transit option runs on fat and saves you money, while the other runs on money and makes you fat. Which one sounds better to you?
(This is the first of a few articles about active transportation that I want to release, at first to spread some thoughts about how we move around – and then we will dive further into practical solutions…stay tuned!)