What now seems like a really long time ago, I started riding a bike (again) because I wanted more freedom, more control over my schedule, and more fun (and a way to trim off a whole bunch of excess weight).
Heading back to school this fall after a hiatus of a couple of years will mean making some adjustments — and the 'easy answer' to those adjustmnets (at least, the one that looks easy on the surface) would mean cycling less.
The 'easiest' way to handle my time commitments and so forth would be to buy a scooter. I happen to like scooters, and am not (in fact) at all opposed to owning one (unlike motorcycles, they don't generally go much faster than bicycles, and therefore I am unlikely to be tempted to kill myself by flying around corners at 125 MPH). However, I am opposed to adopting the kind of thinking that would let me buy one without first sorting out the alternatives. It's a big expense, and frankly I do worry that I would be tempted to just 'take the scooter' when I could ride instead. That's a choice I would regret, since I really love riding my bike, and usually regret it when I opt not to because I'm feeling tired or whatever. Cycling fixes things nothing else does.
I've decided to take my friend Cameron up on his offer of a shared ride home from school on Mondays and Wednesdays. This will mean either he or I will be staying a little later than we otherwise would (I'll have to review his schedule), but the latest we'll be leaving is 9:00 (my class ends at 8:45, so that's no big deal). It will be much, much faster than trying to ride the bus home, which will mean I won't have to deal with sleep deprivation. Cam has a decent bike rack, though I'm thinking it's time to invest in a new one. His is starting to show its age, and also has a couple design flaws that make life much more difficult than it might otherwise be.
Since my evening class begins at 7:30 PM, I'll have plenty of time (2.5 hours, to be precise) to get some miles in on the bike between the end of my workday and the start of class. Southern Indiana is a great place to get those miles, since it's actually quite hilly. I could fit about 40 miles a day of continuous riding in during that period without killing myself — and Heaven knows it will be easier to sit through class if I do!
If the weather proves too inclement even for me, the 73x TARC bus will pick me up right near work around 5:15 and deliver me to school with nearly an hour and a half to spare. However, I think it's a good idea to ride in the harshest weather you can tolerate, and most fall and winter weather is fine with me. I have a good rain jacket now, and I'm planning on buying some good layers to go under it so I can stay warm when the weather gets cold again. If I need a winter cycling jacket, I can get one of those, too (last year I just wore my peacoat, but I think it might be a bit much on the 12-mile hike to school). It wouldn't kill me to own one by any means.
In light of all these developments, I've decided that now is a good time to renew my commitment to cycling as a way of life.
Essentially, I believe that a bike is the best tool for personal freedom a body can find. A bike removes economic barriers by providing efficient, inexpensive transportation which improves, rather than degrades, its user's health. A bike removes barriers to fitness — when you use your body to transport yourself everywhere you go, weight loss and better fitness follow almost automatically. A bike provides an unparallelled opportunity to go places quickly without exceeding the scale of human life -- on a bike, you go fast, but almost never so fast that you can't shout, 'Good morning!' to elderly Ms. Flint and her poodles, or stop off at a new shop that catches your eye, or wave your congratulations to a newly-married couple, or...
On a bike, you can travel twenty miles in an hour — or two — without ever spending a dime on gas (you might, however, spend a buck on a Payday bar!).
On a bike, you can ride ten miles to your favorite restaurant (even if that means making a huge loop to make ten miles out of a two-block ride), then eat all you want.
On a bike, you can hear the buzzing wings of the dragonfly sailing along next to you.
Of course, you can also hear the buzzing wings of the unfortunate June bug that crashes into your face*.
But the dragonfly wings make up for it :)
There are a million good reasons to ride a bike, and as far as I can see it, every last one is a good reason to commit to riding a bike.
*:::koff::: Ahem. Not that this has ever happened to me. :::koffkoff:::