Speak up, legs

Sometimes I can be kind of morbid. I woke up this morning, stretched, and my first conscious thought of the day was “wow this feels good. I’m glad I’m alive, one day I will be dead and I won’t be able to enjoy things like stretching.”

Which some people might find depressing, but it’s true. They say two things in life are inevitable, death and taxes. But you might be Donald Trump, in which case you can avoid paying taxes, which just leaves death. So at least until we hit the singularity, one day you will die.

…That escalated quickly. Sorry if you just wanted some ideas for bike commuter clothes or helmet suggestions. Those are coming soon, I promise.

But I saw this video today and well, damn. We live in these fabulous bodies that can do such amazing things, and now the fourth leading cause of death is that we aren’t using them.

So the next time I’m suffering up a long hill, I’m going to try to swear less, feel the burn, and laugh at myself a little. I won’t say “shut up legs”, more like “I hear you, but I’m going to use you while I can. Also, there is beer at the end of this, so go a little faster please.”

 

Ok, I’m done. Carpe diem, y’all!

 

 

Speak up, legs

#sorrynotsorry

Click to listen

When Cat and I recorded this podcast last week, we had no idea what kind of changes would happen in the world between then and airing. Thus in addition to our chat about living carfree, this episode includes an empowering call to action to be the change you wish to see. B(ik)e the change, if that’s your jam. But pedal onward, literally and figuratively, and don’t apologize for sticking up for the things you believe in. Sometimes being a rebel can be tough work. But it’s so worth it.

I hope you enjoy listening. I’m really proud to be on this week, and huge thanks to Cat for having me!

#sorrynotsorry

Voting isn’t over

No, I’m not talking about the electoral college votes. And I’m not talking about what you did or didn’t do in a voting booth on Tuesday.

We vote every day, whether we are cognizant of it or not.

When you ride your bike instead of driving, you vote for clean air, clean water, energy independence, and better infrastructure.

When you put your dollars in local businesses (local bike shops and beyond), you vote for Main Street, small business owners and in support of your local economy.

When we eat, we can vote for our local farmers, for the wellbeing of workers and animals, and for the environment.

When you speak words to others, it is the chance to vote for more love and compassion in this world, for understanding and tolerance.

When we forgive, it is a vote for healing in ourselves and in those who have hurt us.

We are all human. Not one of us is perfect. But we each have so much power to make the world a better, kinder, cleaner and healthier place the second we decide to apply action to that which we hold most dear.

So please, keep voting. Early and often. As long as you are on this side of the dirt, you have choices that matter.

 
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

Jane Goodall

Voting isn’t over

We need more trail yesterday

It’s great to hear from people who want to bike commute in their town, and even better when it’s local people who I can share personal experience with on specific routes and ideas. What’s not so great is when the answer is something like, “well I do it, but most people would never reach that level of crazy”.

This article from Bike Walk Greenville recounts an email exchange I was cc’d on last week from a newcomer to Greenville who is interested in a commute similar to what I traversed last year. On the one hand, there are some options to consider and we are lucky to have a reliable, albeit massively underfunded, bike friendly public transit option to supplement a bike commute. On the other hand, without protected bike lanes, low traffic bypasses or better yet a bike trail network, we are stuck with a community design that says to people “you’d better get in your car and stay there, if you want to live.”

Thankfully, the planned Swamp Rabbit Trail extension has huge potential to transform the Southeast concrete jungle of Greenville from a gridlocked mess into a highly desirable area to live as well as work and shop. We need this kind of connective infrastructure yesterday, and I can only hope that sooner than later, we will learn some valuable lessons to apply toward future development as Greenville continues to grow.

We need more trail yesterday

Ride to Remember 2016

RTR

Whew. All of the feelings are happening as I prepare to head out on the 2016 Ride to Remember from Greenville to Charleston, SC (252 miles in 3 days). Together with 300 other riders we have raised over $350,000 (and counting) towards the fight to end Alzheimer’s Disease.

I’m riding in memory of my grandfather, who passed away from Alzheimer’s in 2006. I have many fond childhood memories of him, like riding on his shoulders, working in the yard together, and singing with him in the choir when I visited my grandparents each summer.

There are also painful memories, watching him slip away over the years as the disease took over. Toward the end, we still sang hymns together when conversation failed and he saw me as a stranger.

Alzheimer’s doesn’t just take someone out of your life as other diseases do by attacking the body. Alzheimer’s makes you watch helplessly as it sinks its teeth into the bond you have forged with someone over a lifetime, until they are just a shell of their former self.

A year ago I watched others ride in memory of those they have loved and lost, and I knew I wouldn’t miss the opportunity this year.

See you Sunday, Charleston!

Ride to Remember 2016

In which I stop reading comment sections

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 11.01.36 AM

 

I’ve been hearing about the tragedy that happened in Kalamazoo on Tuesday night after a reckless (rumored intoxicated) driver plowed into a group ride, with 5 riders declared dead on the scene.

I’ve been trying to distance myself mentally and emotionally from this horrific news. But this photograph of the riders’ bicycles was too much to ignore. Along with some of the comments, because yes I read comment sections despite my own better judgment telling me not to.

There is a lot of victim blaming going on in the news this week. We all wish that tragedies could be prevented, but you don’t tell legal road users to stay off the roads because “what do you expect will happen”.

What do I expect? I expect others to look where they are going when they are managing a 2-ton vehicle and assume appropriate responsibility for it. I expect that if you are behind the wheel, you will know where the brake pedal is and apply it when necessary. If you are not able to slow down and steer enough to not kill other people, then you should not be driving a vehicle.

Cyclists are not naive or stupid. We are not selfish. We are determined. At least half of my casual conversations end with someone telling me “be safe”. Coworkers tell me I am brave for commuting on the roads every day. My friends ask me to call or text them when I get home. My boyfriend has an app to locate me should I get injured or not come home one day. Most cyclists can relate to these as routine exchanges.

Every time I ride, I realize that my life is in the hands of other road users. If I die on my bike, I am not going to die because I was an obstruction in the road, and my helmet will probably not save my life. I will die from either someone deciding that their rush is more important than my life and passing unsafely, or they will be texting or sending a snapchat, and they will not even see me at all. I don’t hate drivers and after commuting for two years, I can count on one hand the mild unpleasant encounters I’ve had with cars on the road.  But statistically speaking, I will die because someone else is being an asshole.

There will be plenty more said about this incident before the news moves on to the next headline. But we have to remember that the easiest answer isn’t necessarily the right answer. We cannot be shortsighted in how we deal with tragedies like this if we want to truly make them a thing of the past.

My heart is with the families of those we lost on Tuesday. In their memory, we ride onward.

In which I stop reading comment sections