Longing for Outdoors – Plan B: Bike Commuting

I am looking forward to the arrival of my latest purchase, a folding Shimano bike. Yes, a purchase that could, until recently, only have been an unwelcome morning discovery following a night of drunken eBay exploration was actually made with intent, sans intoxication. It is, perhaps, a ridiculous flight of fancy, but I hope it will be much more. In any case, it is now on its way to me via UPS.
image courtesy Best Choice Products

image courtesy Best Choice Products

First, the bike. IT FOLDS UP! I’ve never seen one like this, although I’m told they’re quite common in larger cities. IT’S LIKE A TRANSFORMER. It will fit in my apartment, which might be the most interesting thing about the bike itself. The handle bars & seat fold down, the pedals fold in, and it folds in half right in the middle. I’m taking suggestions for transformer names for it in the comments section. It is a 6 speed, which should be plenty…I hope… since we’re pretty flat here in OK. I’m pretty out of practice, though, so I guess we’ll see what happens.

The motivation for my seemingly out-of-character purchase comes from my growing discontent with my increasingly indoor lifestyle. I hadn’t given it much thought, but it hit me one day how much time I was spending looking out my office window at the sun and the sky. I realized how itchy I have been to get out of the office, volunteering to run any tiny errand or pick up coffee so I can drive my car with the windows down. I have been taking the trash all the way out to the dumpster by the street several times each day, instead of just waiting to make one trip. I must confess, I have even been sneaking outside in the evening as the sun is going down. I like to watch the sunset while everyone else is occupied. Sometimes I sit on the brick landscaping wall just outside the front door, but other times, I go out to the parking lot where my car is parked under some shade trees. I lie on the hood of my car and look up at the sky until it goes purple.
Despite my overall appreciation of indoor life, and the comfort and protection it affords us, I have become increasingly cut off from the outdoors over time, and increasingly ill at ease. It wasn’t always this way. As a child, I lived outdoors all summer, and much of the rest of the year as well. Today, however, when I consider my daily routine, I realize that I generally move from my apartment to my car, then quickly into my office, and then back again in the evening. I’m essentially moving through the physical world by skittering from one air-conditioned bubble to the next, like a cockroach who scuttles out when you move a piece of furniture. This is incredibly limiting, tiresome, and definitely somewhat unimaginative. More to the point, the best part of my day is often getting to feel the wind on my face as I walk the trash to the dumpster, a fact which pretty much sums up the need for change in and of itself.
While I have not ridden a bike for quite some time, I am thrilled at the prospect. I remember the feeling, how much fun it is to glide down a hill. My plan is to commute the 2.5 miles to my office each day (weather permitting.) While I’m reticent to let my hopes get too high, I think this simple change might be able to alter my feelings about going to work. Maybe, I’ll begin to look forward to my morning and evening rides. Maybe going to work will begin to feel more like a reason to be outdoors and do something enjoyable instead of a reason not to.
Additionally, I’m hoping to save on gas, create less pollution, improve my health, drink less coffee, use fewer trash bags, and spend less time staring longingly out the window. The only downside I can see is the need for a new spot to lay when I sneak out to watch the sunset. The hood of my car won’t be available:)

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