A few years ago I was sitting outside the Boston Sports Club on Boylston Street waiting for the marathon team to arrive for practice on a Sunday morning. One runner, Amy, rolled up on her bike, unclipped her shoes, and locked up to a nearby post, strolling over as she took off her helmet. We talked a little bit about her ride from Somerville and how she used her bike to commute just about everywhere.
“It’s just so fun,” she exclaimed. “And, it’s a little bit of extra exercise, but disguised as play.” I asked if wearing the shoes was scary, if Boston drivers made her nervous, all of the things that would otherwise dissuade me, of course, but she answered that you just get used to the shoes in time and you bike with confidence and authority to show drivers that you have place on the road, too.
“Just try it,” she told me. “You’ll love it.”
More than a year later I’ve tried it, but am not quite sure it’s love. Still, I guess I’m optimistically curious.
After work last night I went out for a familiar nine mile loop and wore my new clip-in shoes for the first time. Without Nik to check traffic for me, or Cait and Chris to lead the way, I was cautious, but really did enjoy myself. I made it!
My head has been a bit full of stuff lately and cycling proved to be different from running in that being present was absolutely necessary, requiring both awareness and focus. To avoid rocks or glass, to balance on the right foot at a stop light, and to simply be aware of the cars around me, my mind couldn’t wander. Running has become so comfortable and familiar that the awareness is second nature and almost subconscious. I usually work it all out, or think-think-think about something until it just sort of releases. On my ride I didn’t really think about anything except being safe and moving forward, but in the end, I still got to soak up the endorphins. Afterwards, the stuff is still there, but maybe just a little bit further away. Perhaps, in time, it will become equally therapeutic.