It’s been a while! And while I haven’t been writing, I’ve been quietly chipping away at some things over here, some to be revealed later maybe and some to be written about now!
(lovely fall in the Columbia River Gorge, brought to you by bicycle:)
It’s a glorious fall here in Portland, complete with all the things I love about this season: crisp mornings, magical fog, the hyperactively flocking groups of heterogeneous little birds, apples, tea, cozy evenings, wonderfully colored trees, magical salmon runs, swooshing winds, poufy clouds, beautiful sunsets. I love fall.
As we know, of course, fall also means that winter is coming (I hear tell this is, aside from being a statement of seasonal fact, also a famous phrase from Game of Thrones, but I mean it strictly in the seasonal sense;).
And we also know that without needing to commute to a place of work, winter — with its dark-wet-cold days — would be very easy to not bike through.
However, we ALSO know that if I (and I imagine some of you) stop commuting — i.e. if we stop being active, especially since going to the gym or whatever indoor thing one might do is much less attractive these days — we will be unhappy, pent-up, underexercised grumpfests. Or maybe that’s just me. Either way, knowing this about myself, I’ve been making and executing a plan.
(more gratuitous fall things! Chicken of the Woods mushrooms:)
Since the pandemic started, James and I have been fake-commuting, taking random rides from and back to our house before work in the mornings. The times we go together now have tapered off to one or sometimes two days a week, but it’s still a thing we do, a sweet little morning routine, and a thing I continue to do individually as well on days we don’t go together.
So my goal, starting back the week of September 21st and continuing on through the winter and beyond, is to keep up my “commutes” at a level commensurate to what I would bike if I were actually real-commuting to my office in Vancouver. For me, that’s a baseline of about 100 miles a week, which is a nice round number to aim for. So that’s one thing I’ve been chipping away at, making sure I bike at least that much per week.
Ideally, this happens not in one super long ride but in multiple small and medium trips spaced out through the week the way it would happen if I were actually commuting. That’s mostly how it’s played out so far as I “commute,” run errands, and the like, though one week I biked out to Oxbow and back, which was a good 60 miles or so in one day. But my goal isn’t to cram a bunch of miles into one day and then be done for the week; it’s to make sure that I’m getting out into the wet and the cold frequently, to remember that I like it, to make sure I get my daily fresh air quota, to make sure I’m out and about in the world even if I don’t “have” to be. Because I know I will be a happier human being if I am. And I also know that an arbitrary mileage goal will help me on days that I don’t want to do it, because I am good at doing things I’ve told myself I will do. And being objective about it (i.e. a certain number of miles to get to) helps.
Also, starting it a few weeks ago means I’m building up momentum, so that if there are weeks in the future where I want to bail, I’ll think, “but I’ve already been doing it for so long! I can’t ruin my trend!” heh. This is how I coerce myself into doing the things I know I want to do anyway;)
(from a magical adventure to Tanner Creek, to see the salmon return)
A friend of mine has a different biking goal, to stop driving to the store like she was doing early on in pandemic when she was driving so as to pick up two weeks’ worth of food for four people. She didn’t want to make a mileage goal, but is committed to only riding her bike to the store through the winter.
One of my coworkers, on the other hand, made a goal to take three rides per week, two of any length and one long one, which for him means 15-25 miles.
There are, as always, many possible goals of many possible flavors. And I’ve been trying to collect a group of us chipping away at these random goals, because then we can support each other, and check in, and commiserate about the shittiest of days the way we might if we were all still biking to offices or doing whatever we’d normally be doing in the winter.
So if you have a goal you want to share, definitely let me know! Let’s all support each other’s mental and physical well-being through the literally (hopefully not too metaphorically;) dark times ahead:)