There are times when you feel absolutely alone on your bicycle. The cars keep streaming past you, closer and closer. The hill feels as thought it is never going to end. The rain starts to fall harder. The temperature goes from a slight chill to a bone-numbing deep-freeze.
We all face struggles when biking in Toronto, or anywhere else for that matter.
Yet, many of us, thousands upon thousands actually, continue to take our keys to locks, plant our feet firmly on our pedals and take to the streets. You’ll see us in the rain. You’ll see us during that first snowfall. You’ll see us when it seems like everyone else on the road wants us gone.
Even though there’s a warm fall week ahead of me, I’m still contemplating when I’ll put the bicycle away for winter. I’d love to think that there is a way to go all the way through, but a 23 km journey on very busy, icy and snowbanked roads is going to be just too dangerous for me.
Until that dreadful day arrives, I’m still convinced that cycling in Toronto and not buying a car or taking the TTC is best. Here’s why:
My health: Aside from the fact that being run over would be really bad for my health, since May I’ve seen a drastic improvement physically and mentally. My stress levels have dropped now that I’m more active. I get a better night’s sleep and I’m losing the fat and flab caused by early morning drive-thru runs. I’m feeling better than I have in years.
My finances: Sure, this year I’ve spent more on cycling clothes, bikes, parts and other essentials than I have in more than a decade. But, that is nothing compared to the money I was spending on gas, car repairs and tune-ups. And even better, come next year I won’t have to spend more money on a bicycle, since I’ve already got one. So my biggest travel expense related to my bicycle commuting simply won’t exist next year.
My outlook: This one is good and bad. First, the bad. I have to admit that I look down on people who rely on their cars. Sorry, I know some of these people are my dear friends. But, I will never let a massive hunk of steal and problems run my life again. I’ll never have to think, “Oh, I can’t go on vacation this year, the car needs repairs” again. Some day a car or truck may again be a part of my life. But, I’ll go in to my new relationship with this vehicle knowing that I have the choice to not use it. I have the choice to sell it and take it off the road. I’ll never let a car take as much of my life (and money) as it once did.
And now for the good. I now look at life from the perspective of a cyclist. What I mean is that I can see that it is my own power, be it my legs or my mind, that can take me places. Cars make us rely on gas prices, mechanics and complicated machinery to bring movement to our lives. A bicycle may be an engineering marvel, but it requires one of the most impressive biological marvels to power it.
When faced with the struggle, how do you overcome and keep on biking in Toronto?