Someone approached me today with the question, “Isn’t it tough some days to get up in the morning knowing that you have 20 miles of biking ahead of you?”
I informed them that no, I always enjoy my bike ride. I tried to compare it to how they probably don’t think about driving to work in the morning, they just do it because it is a habit.
It made me remember again how wonderful it is to live car-free. Some biking commuters may fall into the trap of “Should I bike today…no, I guess not today, next time I will”. Or even if they don’t fall into that pitfall they might still have to wrestle with the possibility of leaving their bike at home.
That pitfall, that dilemma “to bike or not to bike” doesn’t exist for me. Because I live car-free, I have no choice. My brain never brings up the thought, “Should I bike today?” It is either bike or lose my job. Commuting on my bike is automatic, no thought process is necessary.
My brain never tells me, “Hey, you don’t have enough time to bike today, you are too busy.” Biking is a set part of the days I work, the time it takes to bike back and forth to work is already factored in.
Some times at the end of the work, I am exhausted. My eyes just want to shut and stay that way. How do I muster the mental strength to jump on my bike and pedal away? I don’t. Biking is so routine, I just get on and go. Not a choice.
Now this makes my commute sound like a mindless miles of pedaling. I assure you that is not the case. I enjoy every commute, there are amazing and weird things to see every time I am on my bike. And even when I am tired from work, biking home energizes me, gives me that “second wind”. Habits don’t mandate drudgery.
The brutal fact is if I did have a car, I would not bike to work 100% of the time. I would still want to, but I know myself only too well. I would convince myself to drive, “just this once”. I would hear my alarm in the morning and my brain would tell me that if I drove to work I would be rewarded with half an hour extra sleep.
Instead of looking at the forecast and thinking of how to deal with the weather, I would see the forecast and think, “Do I want to deal with this weather?” After work if I was tired, I would think, “Man I should have brought the car today”. I would bike home thinking, “I could already have been home and be doing that super important task.” Every time I worked I would have to struggle with the question of “to bike or not to bike”.
But I don’t have a car, there is no choice.
Sometimes empowering myself means limiting myself.
Sometimes limiting myself means freedom.