Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Two vs. Four

I didn't ride my bicycle today. I was far too tired. With a pseudo-hectic schedule (imposed by others and myself), life has simply caught up with me. I'm never prepared for its arrival; therefore, I'm exhausted. Not many people would find that enough of a reason to not ride their bicycle, but... well, let's just say that I've been awake for six hours and I'm still cutting through the grogginess of early AM on nearly seven hours' sleep. Unwarranted.

So I decided to drive my boyfriend's truck today. When I started the engine, I couldn't help but wonder about something that's a been a bit of a back-and-forth self-debate for a few years. Before I begin, I'd like to preface with a quote byBikeSnobNYC, that "idiots travel by foot, car, and bicycle". No one is exempt.

Driving isn't necessarily a brainless activity. I would like to think that in the most ideal of situations all drivers are paying attention and have their wits about them (a fantasy, at best). In my cycling ventures I've noticed the following [what I call typical] symptoms of Vehicle Acclimation: delayed reactions, instances of alarm, tail-gating, brake-happiness, and speed-OD'ing. There's always one that will mess it up for everyone.

Oddly enough, in situations where I feel less than on I've found that driving or taking public transportation is a plan B that rarely fails, at least when it comes to my standard of comfort. I've never found driving to be all that difficult. In some cases, for lack of a better phrase, it's like riding a bicycle - hop in and go. Contrary to what some say, driving is not rocket science (beware anyone who thinks it is). God forbid you must think to parallel park or make a u-turn, but on the general whole, if you've your senses there is no reason that a car cannot be an efficient mode of transportation. Unfortunately, not all of us are that gifted.

I will never say that I'm the best driver in the world, but I'd like to think that having been a pedestrian for, I don't know, ever and a cyclist for the last few years has helped me with driving in ways that I couldn't imagine if I never had the exposure. On a bicycle you can be booking - especially downhill, especially in traffic - and booking on two wheels in a precarious situation is often as intimidating as it is exhilirating - and it's just as exciting the second and third time as it is the first. It only makes you want to climb higher and go faster. But if I didn't make good use of my peripheral vision, obey traffic laws or exercise overall caution, I'd probably have broken both my legs by now.

I don't know if many strictly-drivers can say that, but why would they? I can understand how the thought wouldn't have need to arise unless one was in an accident or ever has a close-call. Driving/being driven is comfortable, yet I appreciate knowing what it feels to be vulnerable. I don't have to get in an accident to do better, and my reflexes are sharp enough that - in not having steadily driven for six years - I can hop behind the steering wheel of a rarely-handled Ford F150 and not freak the frak out.

Now before you get all up in arms, trust me when I say that if my boyfriend were not in New York and didn't leave me his truck, I would have ridden my bicycle today. I suppose the purpose of this is also to say that no matter the circumstance - if it's "too cold", "too wet", or you're "too tired" - you should never feel bad for relying on a plan B, even if when you look back on it in hindsight you could've ridden your bicycle without a hitch. And in the meantime, use any and all "vulnerabilty" to your advantage, because it will only make you more badass.

Happy cycling~

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