For a little while one simple question has both perplexed and bothered me.
Why as a society do we make the good things in life so hard to participate in?
It’s a question all the more perplexing because so much of what is clearly and self evidently 'not good' appears not only easily accessible but is in fact promoted and positioned as demanding our mass collective participation.
Riding to work I’m forced to take on the mess of poor road conditions, mindless drivers and a complete lack of traffic law enforcement. It is as if I’m being actively discouraged from doing what is otherwise considered a good thing. Another description of my morning commute might involve describing how I ride down a street on which one in three shops sells vast amounts of cheap, fast, deep fried foods the refuse of which litters the surrounding street while its participants join the coronary heart failure que.
Something isn’t adding up and it bothers me.
What bothers me fractionally more is my concern that we cyclists are too often a part of the problem.
I know that sounds extreme so bare with me.
Listening to cycle chat, being aware of my own thinking, following online discussions and browsing the cycling press all lead me to observe how we too easily make cycling a dry, militant, activity and that can't possibly be a good thing.
I suspect that what really puts my friends off cycling is niether the road surface, the traffic or the lack of law enforcement (they are given realities) but my winging about those things, my retelling of the morning commute while failing to give thanks for the time I had to clear my thoughts, or for the idea which my pedaling stimulated or for the bird of prey I spotted under the railway bridge, or for always arriving at work on time, or for the deep satisfaction of my post ride brew.
Good things grow. If our own description of cycling is not good how can we ever expect the thing we love to grow.
In being misserable we place a whole lot more than our personality at stake.
Here's a few questions which might help identify right where you are :
- When you talk about cycling do others share your joy or run from your pain?
- When you ride is it always a battle?
- Does it still make you smile?
- Do you feel proud or just battered?
- Do you see the things that drivers miss or just the road beneath your wheels?
- Are you longing to share or determined to defend?
Feeling stuck? I was! So here’s a few ideas for bringing the fun back into our cycling experience.
First a little homage to the absolute genius ‘Whoopdeedoo’. It’s the invention of Vancouver resident, planner and cycle enthusiast Greg Papove. The Whoopdeedoo transfers the fun of a pump track onto a small brightly coloured ramp located along a number of Vancouvers cycle routes, thereby enabling local children to enjoy the wonder of velocity, while enriching the whole urban environment with a little more joy.
If you’re city council aren’t about to invest in Whoopdeedoo then it might be time to take matters into your own hands with a Chalk Trail Kit. Simply add this brilliant little invention to the back of your bike (why should children be the only ones to enjoy this?) and enjoy filling the urban space with a little more colour. Grab a couple of friends and the only limit to your street art will be the limits of your imagination.
Looking for something a little more grown up?
- Set your bike’s computer to km and do everything in your power to make sure you hit the 100kmph mark.
- Its winter so ride in shorts, you’ll suddenly feel very alive and so will your fellow road users!
- Ride a different route, familiarity breeds dullness.
- Start early and watch the sun rise.
- Ride up your favourite descent and down your favourite climb.
- Ride with friends. That's 'with', not 'pulling from the front' or 'pushing from behind' just 'with'.
- Take a warm drink and share it.
- Play and remember how good it feels.
- Race the bus
Note to self; 'winge less, celebrate more!' Now tell us your top tips for keeping the joy in cycling.