While I sit here and moan inwardly at the flash-freeze that has seen a 17 degree Celsius temperature drop today which keeps me from cycling tonight I let my mind wander. [Cold weather weenie tonight! I’m okay to admit it!]
What came to mind is a conversation I had with a friend on Sunday. We talked about the cycling culture. About cycling as parents and as a family. We shared about how we’ve adapted and changed. Then one of asked, “Did we change how we approach things because of cycling, or was cycling just one part of a conscious choice to change our lifestyles?”
We concluded that it’s not a chicken and egg topic. For both of our families we came into cycling somewhat deliberately and somewhat reactionary.
For both of our families cycling became the best option for us because we were not wealthy and when our vehicles ceased to be a viable source of transportation In her case: it was old and broke down. In our case: it was stolen, destroyed and too old for insurance to pay enough to replace it.
Still, both families had moved into cycling before those circumstances. For myself, I had cycled a lot from high school on. I’m not certain about the other family’s specifics but I remember meeting up with them during the summer before their vehicle had to be retired.
So, we were making deliberate efforts to cycle.
However, when we had to cycle we changed because we were cycling. Having lived rural, I have very good habits when it came to grocery shopping and errand running. I take the car out once a week and do several errands in one go while trying to arrange to go to one location and walk out from there.
Cycling meant that I continued to do that but to seriously consider the items I was taking home with me. I’d point out to the kids that I wasn’t willing to cycle home a case of pop. So we’d get one there and split it as a true treat. Sometimes Daddy would come with and because we had more legs and ability to distribute weight, we would come home with a case of pop or whatever. So the change was more careful ‘consumerism’ and family participation.
Cycling changed how people react to us. We find (all of us) that we do a lot of defence. Now, until recently we home-schooled, so we’re well practised in explaining our choices.
We’d still get invited out to people’s houses. In fact, I think we got invited out more than we do now. Only the invitation would come with a, “We’ll come and get you.”
And we’d explain that “Honestly, we can bike as it is really not that far!”
The concession we made, in the summer time and would be outdoors, was to ask if we could bring the dog. This was because we found the main change was that our visits would last longer. Instead of quickly running over for lunch and then leaving to hurry home, we’d stay. We’d really get to know our friends.
And then, we’d have a riot riding home together. Giggling, laughing, and if it was late at night, flashing the drivers. [Bad joke, our rear lights are set to flashing but the joke amused my 9-year-old immensely!]
The change? Overall, cycling had the effect of slowing us down, but living more deliberately. We choose our moments and tried to have purpose to what we choose.
But, those changes were and are a part of an intentional choice to change our lives. These choices go far beyond the choice to cycle.
Note: In all fairness, both of the families now have vehicles. Theirs was gifted and we bought a really old vehicle that was rebuilt by mechanic students. Both my friend and I feel that in Ontario, during the winter not having a vehicle and having young children makes cycling a poor choice for year round transportation. Also, we have bus transportation in our city. I’m actually scared about using it (my goal for the year) but they use the bus to transport just one of them or when they need a second vehicle.
Sorry for the tense changes. Most of this is written thinking about things that have happened in the past. Some of what happens today. And its late and my daughter has been sick but I still wanted to write!