Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Longer, Wintry Rides

How do you like the flag growing out of Bigger's head in this shot?  Pretty classy, eh?
This weekend, Little, Bigger, and I set out to run an errand on what is to us (from our centrally-located, everything-within-arms-reach neighborhood) the far north side of town.  Since we were headed in that direction anyhow, I decided to try out the commute to an elementary school in that area that we think might be a good fit for our kids someday.

If you know me well, you know that I am an awful navigator.  I'm just outstandingly poor at it.  For any trip outside of my typical repertoire, I usually use google maps (don't you love the bike directions option?), then check my bike map (this helps me both orient myself to the ride and also check to see if there is a better route), then scribble turn-by-turn directions on a piece of paper.  I do okay, actually, for someone with such a poor sense of direction.  For this trip, which involved two unfamiliar destinations, I used my regular systems, but I did not check the route between the school and the errand, because it seemed pretty straightforward.  And the navigation part of the day went very smoothly.  Our route was perfect.  What I didn't realize was that what I estimated to be a nine mile trip was actually a seventeen mile one.

Mom, you should spend more time thinking about our route and less time photographing this thing growing out of my head.

Do you know what?  Even though that distance is unusual for me, we were okay.  In fact, it was a really fun ride.  Sure, there was a little whining at the beginning of our trip from Bigger, who had to wait longer than he had expected to reach a treat at our second destination.  But Little got a much longer than usual bike nap on the way there.  And on the way home, Bigger was not only less cranky, he was actually asking if we could add another leg to our trip.  And me?  At the end of the day, I felt really, really good.

Washed out but happy at the end of the ride

As I've starting cycling more and more, I find I'm just itching to get out on my bike most days.  Once I settle onto the bike, my kids and cargo piled all around me, I feel something inside me say, "Yes!  Here comes the good part!"  When I head down my driveway, I feel this rush of happiness.  There is a secret about riding your bike: it's fun.  And in my life right now, longer rides mean more fun.  Sometimes when it's late or dark, concerned friends tell me that they hope I don't have far to go.  My wish is the opposite.  I wish that I had more errands to run.  I wish that my children's preschool was a little farther away.  I wish that I didn't live so close to my favorite shops.

I start a new, very part-time teaching job this week.  (I was supposed to start last week, but the bug our family came down with put the kibosh on that.)  It is about sixteen miles from our house, at a small elementary school.  At first, I was looking forward to commuting only by bus: time to read students' work, time to knit, time to catch up with a good book.  I'm still looking forward to the bus ride, but now I'm also imagining what it might be like to try some of that commute by bike.  Before this weekend, I doubted the practicality of cycling that distance.  Now I realize how amazing I could feel at the end of the day if I did bike to work.  (And man, what does it feel like to ride a bicycle without two kids and a bunch of heavy stuff?)  My plan is to try out the route with a friend who is an experienced cyclist and see where I want to go from there.  Wish me luck!

No comments:

Post a Comment