Monday, April 26, 2010

Pettson and Findus

I was having dinner with Andrea last night when we started talking about cycling. (I mean, what else is new?) However, she brought up an interesting point. She was considering not biking to work anymore. Now, if you know Andrea, you'll know that she is a cyclist. She's been doing it for years, is always attentive, wears her helmet and is a careful rider.

But she also mentioned that she would not want to put herself in danger and considered the streetcar tracks a bit of a hazard and the morning commute stressful, which it is. It's ironic since one of the advantages of cycling people always tout is that it is less stressful than driving. I guess any time you're on the road, it'll feel somewhat manic. The logic behind Andrea's reasoning is that she did not want to put herself in danger. Makes sense. Most of us don't want to die or be injured.

The more interesting thing about this conversation was the fact that Andrea considered not cycling anymore. Not completely abandon cycling, but for someone whose commutes are mostly done by bicycle, this is a pretty big statement.

So it got me thinking about my own commuting habits. I ride everywhere. And on days where I can't ride, I walk. I'm lucky that my whereabouts are mostly limited to downtown, therefore easily accessible by bike/foot. I haven't taken transit in months, and I feel pretty happy about that. Yet, when I think about my not-so-immediate future on a bicycle, I blank out.

Andrea and I started talking about if we had kids and whether we would commute with them on bicycle. Andrea would not feel safe doing so, even if they were riding on a side street and said she wouldn't want them riding as commuters until they were much older. I understand the reason for that concern, and I feel pretty divided about it. The inner cyclist shouts, "Bike 4 life!" whereas the responsible mother says, "What if..."

For some reason, I've only ever envisioned myself cycling now (at this age) and maybe for another decade or so, and then again at 65 or whatever, riding along a Swedish countryside idyllically on an old Crescent with a basket full of berries and flowers, on my way home from the market with fish for my cat. I've got amnesia for those 30, 40-odd years between now and blissful retirement. I can't possibly see that far ahead in my future, and what's even stranger is I can't see myself on a bicycle during those mystery years. And that is CRAZY considering how much I have bicycles on the mind.

The really troubling thing about this crystal-ball gazing conversation is I can't seem to imagine where I'll be or what I'll be doing during those years, period. I'd like to think I'll still be on two-wheels, but who knows?

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