Sometimes We Buy Things!
I know, it’s crazy when so-called minimalists get excited about material things. You truly can’t buy happiness….but buying a bike sure comes close! No matter how anti-consumerism I get, there are still some purchases that just feel right. Like healthy food, good music for our ears, a new houseplant, or a bike in this case.
A wise person once said “Kids buy toys, adults buy tools.” However, a bike for an adult is the best of both worlds! I plan to use it to reduce trips in the car, so I’m after utility not just recreation. But like a little kid with a new toy, I’m smiling every time I think about it, and waiting for it to stop snowing (hello, First Day of Spring!) so I can go outside and ride!
Josh already bikes to work almost daily, which is how we went from two cars / commutes to one. I guess he’s my inspiration! But it took more than that for me to want a bike. The kids and I enjoy walking and running with the stroller everywhere we can – to stores, various parks, and the library – but we’re bound within about a 3 mile radius of the house on foot. I’m now excited to use the car even less! (I’ll make Josh pull the kid trailer!) There are so many places we’ll eventually be able to bike that were just a tad too far to go on foot regularly – my work and Forest Park both fall into this category!
A bike saves on gas and car wear, reduces emissions, provides a low-impact workout, and I know from my cyclist friends it’s mentally better for you than commuting by car (especially in traffic!) So in my eyes biking places is a win / win / win / win!
Can you see why I’m excited to start?
The First Step is the Hardest…
I’m not gonna lie, until the day I bought my bike I was intimidated to take the leap. I rode my mountain bike around on trails with my family growing up, but I don’t consider myself a cyclist. Josh and I lived nearby the Katy Trail when we first got married so we rode that frequently. Then both our bikes were stolen out of our open garage a year-and-a-half ago (in defense of city living, this was when we lived in the suburbs!) I never replaced mine, partly because I was pregnant and had no desire to ride during pregnancy.
Josh replaced his mountain bike with a refurbished vintage road bike from BWorks in Soulard, a non-profit bike shop that helps fund bikes for St Louis youth. That’s what he’s been using for his commute. I felt like cycling was unattainable for me (everything feels impossible whilst battling morning sickness.) Josh and other people could bike places but it wasn’t for me. It wasn’t until recently that a switch in my brain flipped and I decided I was up to the challenge! It finally seemed do-able.
It’s worth noting that in other countries, biking doesn’t come with all the mental baggage that it does in the US. For some reason cycling is more intimidating here. There’s an overall impression that you must be a triathlete or a ultra-cyclist in order to even bike to the grocery store. As a result most people, even those who own bikes, don’t feel comfortable using them as an alternate form of transportation. In other parts of the world like China and India, “normal” people use bikes everyday, not just health gurus.
How a Journey Starts…
As a generally outgoing person, I’m sometimes insecure about my enthusiasm coming across as stupid, air-headed, or uneducated. But I’ve decided it doesn’t really matter what people think of me, and a little optimism isn’t actually stupid at all.
Optimism is what gets us from a standstill to our journey. It isn’t until we see a goal as attainable that we claim it for ourselves. Whether it be biking to work, pursuing a natural birth, eating healthy, or using cloth diapers – if we view them as nice for others but inaccessible to us, we close ourselves off to the possibilities! A little positivity goes a long way. With each of these things there was a definite moment of realization that went something like: “Hey, I can do this!” That’s when it became mine. I started owning it, and I started doing those things.
It’s Not Instantaneous
I need to practice riding my bike before it will replace my car. I need to learn how to sit on a bike that actually fits me after riding one that was too small for a long time. I need to practice changing flats and become familiar with all the bike routes to my favorite places.
Just like I needed to read books and prepare for my natural birth, and just like I learned that healthy eating is an ongoing balance, this will be a journey. I’ll never fully arrive and that’s okay. It’s great to always have new goals ahead of us.
But if I never got over that initial hump of “I could never do that” I wouldn’t be doing many of the things that I now love! I never would have signed up for my first 5K. I never would have picked up a camera and made my first short film. Believing in my own ability to learn and grow is paramount. Letting go of perfectionism and fear of making mistakes along the way is also key.
So That Brings Me To…
We’re at BWorks on Saturday. We’ve been there many times, but we’ve never looked at bikes for me! We bring our kids. I tell Josh we’ll probably just look, but we decide to bring the bike rack just in case…
It’s a good thing we do because the first bike I test is a winner. It’s the right height, comfortable, and the right price. I go on several test rides around the neighborhood. The employees adjust the seat, replace the chain, air the tires, and tweak the brakes…and sure enough the bike comes home with us!
I’m excited about the possibilities. St. Louis is already much more bike-friendly than it used to be, and there’s plans for even more trail expansions and bike lanes in the future. I can’t wait to see it happen. Josh and I are pretty certain we’re meant to live in St. Louis for the long haul. I’d love to see more pedestrians and cyclists out there in the next 10-20 years. I’m just a small part of it.
“I want to get my first bike, mommy!” Malachi says before we leave the shop. He must have realized that bikes aren’t just for daddy. Looks like I’ve already inspired somebody…
What are you secretly striving for that’s outside of your comfort zone?
What do other people do that you admire and would like to try?
How can you make it your own? Who can you ask to show you the ropes without judgement?
How could a small dose of optimism help you on a new journey?