Commuting by bicycle is something I’d envisioned myself doing for a long time. It’s good exercise. It’s good for the environment. I thought about it a lot. Now that I have a significant other, there’s a witness to my sloth, so I’m more motivated to actually do it.
The best part is that I don’t have to go to the gym! I hate the gym. It’s boring, and it eats up too much time. An hour workout, with travel time, requires eighty minutes of an already busy day.
Here is where I found the time: Driving to work requires a forty-minute round trip or I can ride my bike for sixty. Since the forty-minute commute is a sunk cost (I have to do it regardless), I’m really only out twenty minutes more by biking. So, I get a sixty-minute workout for only twenty minutes. Since the gym required eighty, I have an extra hour in my day to write.
There have been unexpected benefits too. As I’m pedaling, I think about my stories. I work out any problems I’m having with my manuscripts. By the time I get home, any issues are resolved, and I can jump right in and start writing. More saved time!
I also notice my surroundings more, things I might want to write about. When I drive, I take the same couple routes, stop at the same traffic lights, look at the same buildings, stare at the same bumper stickers. When I ride my bike, I cut through different neighborhoods in an effort to avoid gas fumes. I see more. I notice the flowers and trees in their respective life cycles, the dried lawns that are a sign of economic times, and the Xeriscaping as people move toward conservation.
I notice people. An old woman in the distance, pushing a shopping cart full of possessions inside white garbage bags. Her hair is gray and pulled back. With each laborious step, she heaves herself forward to what, I wonder. Upon noticing her, I thought about her for days and then, last week, our paths crossed, and I looked directly into a face that was no older than my own.
Traveling the Greenbelt I pass other cyclists, walkers, and runners, catching snippets of their conversations – things I might use in my manuscript. Snippets are always more interesting, because you get to fill in the blanks. I came over Friendship Bridge last month and onto the BSU campus. Amongst the trees that line the river, looking back at me, was a deer.
These are all things I wouldn’t see from my car, things I might incorporate into my writing. So, as the days grow shorter and the mornings darker, I’ll continue to ride. If you live in East Boise and happen to notice tiny red and white lights flashing through the darkness on your way to work, that’ll be me. I’ll be thinking about all the things I’m going to write that evening while all of you are at the gym.