Saturday Commute

I had an odd day.

My morning started out great, I got to sleep in until 3:05 am! I am finding out that getting out the door takes less time when I don’t have to don a gazillion layers and tons of face gear paraphernalia. Plus, biking to work takes less time because my legs are actually free to pedal properly, the roads are clear and spring is having this weird “you should go faster” effect on me.

The ride into work was calm and peaceful, just the way I like it.

But mid-morning one of the waitresses told me to come out into the dining room, as one of the tables of customers wanted to see me. Instantly, I was nervous. I really dislike going into the dining room when there are lots of people around and I had no idea what this couple wanted. Did they have a complaint about their food?

Nope.

They had seen a crazy cyclist biking in a ice and rain storm in early January (from what they described I think it was this night) and had been wondering all winter who I was. This morning they had overheard a few of the “regulars” talking about me, put two and two together and found their mystery biker. They exclaimed that I was tough albeit insane. After chatting for a few minutes I went back to the kitchen.

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I apologize for the picture, but at least there is candy!

 

Along the way home from work I stopped into an adorable country store to buy cabbage and some goodies to surprise my brothers with at church tomorrow since they just finished the last game of their basketball season. I went inside, snapped a picture of the candy shelf only to have the owner of the store (a sweet Mennonite lady) pull me aside.

“So you are the girl who rides your bike all the time!”

Apparently, she and all the store employees have been keeping a close eye on me and my travels all winter long. She curiously plied me with many questions, which I was more than happy to answer. As she chattered on about the various conversations she, her family and employees had been having about me throughout the winter, I began to feel my stomach start to turn just a bit. When we ended the conversation, she happily told me that she was so excited to tell all her sisters (there are 16 siblings in her family) that she had finally talked to the winter biker!

I bought everything I needed, left the store and started packing my panniers. I was going to take a picture of the cute storefront, but when I turned around, camera in hand, several people were watching from the windows and I completely chickened out.

After getting back on the road, I had to take a few deep breaths and calm myself. All of a sudden the scrutiny of being the crazy girl biker felt overwhelming. I felt threatened and creeped out when I thought of all the cars that have passed me over the winter and wondered, maybe for months, just who I am and what I am doing on the road in the snow. All the times friends and family have told me about times they have overheard others talk about me came flooding into my mind, haunting me.

Obviously, the dread that had settled over me had been triggered by the day’s events and the shy, introverted side of myself was making me cower. Fearful thoughts started to bog down my mind.  I had take those thoughts firmly in hand and remind myself that the people I had spoken to today were just friendly, kind people who were concerned about my welfare (and sanity). The curiosity and concern of others is nothing to be afraid of.

And then I thought of an exchange between myself and a coworker that happened just before the end of my shift. She is considering buying a bike and riding to work because she wants to have more drive and energy while she is at work.

It is pretty amazing to know that I can maybe inspire people to ditch their car and pedal to work. Or maybe seeing me will remind them to dust off an old bike and go for a Sunday afternoon ride sometime this spring. That makes any scrutiny worth it.

Plus, this was my first winter biking, by next year I will lose my novelty status. Two winters from now I will be a standard part of the landscape and hopefully joined by other winter bikers. That would be downright awesome!

To work (10 miles)
3:30 am to 4:30 am
Weather
33F, 16 mph Southeast wind

From work plus store stop (10 miles)
3:15 pm to 4:45 pm
Weather
40F, 8 mph Southeast wind

Errand #10 Country Store (Store)
Distance: 4 miles

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15 thoughts on “Saturday Commute

  1. You are an inspiration. Like all those that passed you along the road this winter, I wonder who you are and what you really look like. I hope in the warmer weather you can shed the full helmet and ski goggles so we can all get a glimpse of you. 🙂

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  2. When I attempted a cross country bike, but only made it to Cleveland, I tried to have Zero pictures of myself. So, I understand what you’re saying and that it gets kinda creepy when people start noticing you. Hmm..sure..got it.

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  3. I think you’re incredible and it is so fantastic that you have been an inspiration to others! It is great that this year you are a novelty to everyone, next year you’ll only be a novelty to new people, the year after that there’ll be two of you… then three… and so on and so on! Really shows how one person can make a difference 🙂 Can I ask whereabouts you live? I’m not talking town name, just vague location as I am from England and cannot imagine having winters like you have had, it seems to me you must live in Antartica!

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    • Thanks so much for your encouraging comment!
      I live in the northern part of New York state, fairly close to Lake Ontario which is why we often get decent snowstorms.

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  4. I’m so glad the Mennonite woman approached you and told you about their thoughts for you as a winter cyclist. Be heartened. They are cheering for you.

    And so your journey will be lightened every day. I think they are interested and…one day, you might need their help in an emergency. Think of it this way.

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    • Jean, thank you for your wise perspective, I think you are 100% right. I will remember what you said if I ever feel overwhelmed by people noticing my bike riding again.

      I am not even sure why my thoughts were in such turmoil on Saturday afternoon-maybe it is because I feel like I am in my own little world out on the road and it just shocked me to realize that I am making quite the splash in my community!

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  5. I wouldn’t feel creeped out all by your experience. You have a reputation and, while you may be crazy for riding in some of the temps you do, you’re still an inspiration even to those that tell you to your face that you’re crazy! You’re also just cute as a button…..I’ve seen your pictures on here! (now you can be creeped out!!!) 😉

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    • It is fun! And if your church is anything like my church you got some good-natured teasing about riding in the freezing cold. Either that or a few shocked looks 😉

      Thank you, may your travels be safe as well!

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      • Yes, I think I’m that eccentric bike guy to them 🙂 – but it’s a good moniker.

        I usually ride about 3,000 miles a year, but mostly hobby cycling. I admire what you’re doing.

        My youngest daughter in Philadelphia bikes all through the city. Pretty adventurous.

        I look forward to reading more of your posts.

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      • All biking is good biking 😀

        I am a country girl so I am super impressed by folks who bike in cities, (so many cars, oh my goodness) I think I have easy out here!

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