Since I quit my soul-crushing retail job and started online classes, I’ve been simultaneously starving from social interaction and dreading leaving my house #introvertproblems – a situation that isn’t helped by the continuous downpour. But when you live in Seattle and the weather looks like this after another record rain month, you just gotta get outside. I’m still a newbie on the bike and it takes a great deal of pep-talk to get myself outside on my own. Just like when I know I need to run and don’t feel motivated, my brain attempts to come up with a hundred excuses not to do it. I commiserated with one of my friends via Messenger about my internal conflict of whether or not to emerge from my dwelling.
“It’s finally not raining today, but I hate to do things by myself. It just feels awkward.”
“Yeah, some things are not worth doing are your own,” she agreed, stuck at work.
But a picnic with my bike Aeris by the water would be super romantic! I could stop along the way and get my favorite veggie burger. So delicious…
“You’d have to carry the bike lock,” countered my brain. “It won’t fit in your jersey pocket. And you’ve never used it before. Do you even have a backpack?”
It’s true. My jersey pocket is way smaller than my partner’s. Not fair. So I found a bag leftover from one of his Ironmans and shoved the lock cable inside. Yeah, it felt awkward because I’ve never used it before, but what did I say to myself when I bought this bike?
This bike will change my life. – Me, 2016
This bike’s purpose was to give me freedom! And to attain that freedom, I had to – wait for it – use the bike!
“But it’s cold out,” my brain tried feebly. “You’ll have to bike in traffic.”
Luckily, I got a sick new bike jacket (in Please Don’t Hit Me neon yellow) for Christmas and new bike socks! I had my luxurious long biking tights, jersey, and even a base layer. Basically pro. Ignoring my wimpy brain, I hoisted my bike over my shoulder, carried her down the stairs (again, so romantic), and out the door we went. As soon as I hopped on and merged onto the road, we were doing just fine. Maybe it’s just like running. All you have to do is get out the door and you’re golden.
I’m not afraid to assert myself on the road, but it still takes guts to get out there. You have to make sure cars don’t bully you to the side of the road and stay vigilant at the same time. Biking commands an awareness that running necessarily does not. (As a runner, I definitely don’t have to think about which side of the road to run on. I do what I want.) We have decent bike lanes in our neighborhood and once you get a couple miles down the road, there’s a glorious bike path along the water. So, all I had to do was get there, right? Right.
My favorite burger place is less than a mile away, just past our favorite beer place. I had no problems getting there or locking up my bike while I went inside to order. The friendly cashier noted the beautiful weather and asked if I was out for a ride. I agreed and told him that I just had to go have a picnic. He asked where and nodded in a “Right on” kinda way. Veggie burger acquired, I placed it in my handy backpack along with my lock and I was on my way.
It’s all downhill towards the waterfront path and there’s only one scary intersection to go through. After I asserted my way through there like the badass I was, it was quite exciting to zoom on downhill. A little ways down the trail, I was greeted by incredible views of downtown Seattle’s skyline, including the iconic Space Needle. Aeris and I found a bench and I enjoyed my delicious burger that was, in fact, still warm. I come this way often on long runs, but I don’t get to sit and enjoy the atmosphere like this. A few runners, a walker with a happy dog, and some cyclists moved past me. I relaxed in the sun for a while, enjoying the sound of the crashing waves, and endured the crazy whipping wind, while watching a little duck float around.
After lunch, the real challenge would be biking back up that hill and maneuvering home. Over the past two years, I’d run up this hill a lot and knew it would be a challenge. I took it to low gear, remained calm, and conquered it with patience and perseverance. Who cares if you’re moving slow? Moving forward is what’s important. There’s definitely no need to feel self-conscious or lame about that. And at least I wasn’t dying by the time I got to the top. Only one more tricky lane change and I was home free. By the time I got home, I didn’t really want to get off the bike. But, it was a solid ride and time to get some other things done. I’d only spent about an hour outside with Aeris, but even that short experience boosted my confidence on the bike and my sense of independence. Thanks to my bike, I’m one step closer to freedom, one step closer to being That Girl Who Does Things On Her Own.