One With the Bike

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Cycling is very much an individual sport. You train, you progress, you learn and grow. When you’re on your bike you feel invincible, all the world’s cares are gone for those brief hours. You learn what works and stick with it. You reach a Zen state. But then, out of nowhere, a family with kids is tooling along in front of you. You have to break! You’re incredulous! Outraged, even.

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Or possibly worse, you’re flying on a flat you’d been struggling with for weeks. Pride swells as you realize that all your hard work has paid off. You’re using all your energy, all your muscular strength. And you’re moving as fast as you can — you even consider whether anyone could go faster on this stretch. As you muse, a rider — who doesn’t even have the courtesy to call out “ON YOUR LEFT!” — flies by you like you’re standing still. You have half a mind to catch him and give him a tongue lashing about being rude.

The situations in which your patience will be tested are endless: You’re riding on a busy road, and even though you called out, the rider you wish to pass won’t move over so its safe. Your riding companion has to stop every 50 feet for something or other. A peloton is passing you at break-neck speed and you can’t move over.

This is the time you need to breath. Remember why you are on that bike — to become healthy, fit, and active; to regain a sense of wonder; to support your community; to have at least a short time that you’re not filling the air with carbon — then remember that those riders are on their bikes for the same reason.

Slow down as you pass that family and say, “Hi, good morning!” Cheer the peloton on as they pass you. Remind the rider who is riding too far out into traffic that he’s safer as far to the right as possible (but do so cheerfully). Keep your snark where it belongs: fighting the enemies of love and inclusion. And whatever their reaction, be quick to say, “Thank you!” Gratitude is the surest way to happiness.

Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp, 30 July, 1816.

Your Bear


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