“She’d never ridden a bicycle before and was experiencing, for the very first time, that rare and wonderful sensation of soaring that can occur—especially on a cool, sunny day, and especially when no pedaling is required. . . . It was impossible not to smile.” —The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey, Trenton Lee Stewart
When I was little, I would ride my bike in circles around our driveway. Big circles, little circles, figure-eights; change directions and ride around in more circles.
I wanted to go further but I was too small to ride away by myself, so I rode in big circles, little circles, figure-eights. Big circles, little circles, figure-eights.
I think my childhood self would be happy to know I finally made it somewhere on my bike.
For Christmas last year, Ben and I got each other new bikes for riding around the city. (Well, the holidays being crazy like they always are, we actually bought them in March.) Since then, I’ve been riding on and off to work. Trucks, trains, cars, crowds—there’s so much to navigate and it’s a million times more fun than driving.
There’s nothing like that feeling of soaring, the wind in my face.
The calmness of the waterfront in the morning. The chaos of the shipping terminals and construction zones.
I love being up close and personal with the city.
Just like when I was riding in endless circles in suburbia, riding a bike is still one of the most refreshing and reflective experiences. I let my thoughts swirl but don’t make any decisions except the ones immediately at hand, like when to change gears and when to cross the street. I face the day or leave the day behind with every push of the pedal; it’s exhaustion and renewal at the same time.
Biking in the city is completely different than biking around the neighborhoods where I used to live. I’ve never done this kind of riding before so there has been so much to learn, and I have so much more to still figure out, from bike safety and maintenance to how to handle helmet hair at the office.
I’ve made two goals going into next month:
- Bike to work every day.
- Create artwork inspired by my bike commute.
I’ve been slowly working up to biking every day, and as September rolls around next week I think I’m ready to take the plunge and commit to riding my bike to work every single day. I already know I’ll have two cheat days when I need to have a car at work, plus a vacation that Ben and I have planned in the middle of the month. So I think it’s doable.
I should mention I haven’t ridden in the rain yet. (And next week is supposed to be rainy. And I live in Seattle.) Plus I’m not a “sporty” or athletic kind of person; helmet hair is truly something that I’ve devoted energy to tackling—I might have to revive my hair tutorial series once I get that mess figured out!
Part two of my bike-to-work challenge involves artwork. I’ve felt such a desire to create lately but have wrestled with what exactly I want to make. I’ve decided to tie these goals together and make little art pieces based on things I see during my bike commute each day. I mean for this month-long art project to be completely experimental so it might be as awful as my helmet hair and as pointless as biking in circles around the driveway, but I’m excited to dive in and see what happens.
I hope you’ll follow along on this journey of health and creativity with me. It should prove to be an interesting month!
Inspiration photos from my commute can be found on instagram with the #bestofmybikecommute hashtag. If you have a bike commute please feel free to jump in and share the best of your bike commute (and tips for helmet hair, if you care about that).