Expectation vs Reality
When I thought of commuting, I had this sunshine, lollipops and rainbows view of how my daily ride was going to be.
I pictured this;
It was more this;
I thought I’d look like this;
Or probably more like this;
Goddess help me, it was more like this;
But you know what? Doesn’t matter. Rode my bike.
But one day, when Sprocketman and I retire to a country that doesn’t hate cycling taxpayers the way that Australia does; then goddam it, I will look like this;
I have mentioned before how firkin scared I was of cycling in to work, 30km (18 miles) each way with some sections along a particularly nasty piece of Sydney highway which drivers can be rather self-entitled about sharing with other users.
And when I said I had sleepless nights before my early rides, I am literally talking about week-long durations of maybe 4 or 5 hours of interrupted tossing and turning and worrying each night. I was a bit of a pale-shadow of myself during the days and started chugging melatonin to try and get back into a good sleep cycle.
So to try and allay my fears during those long sleepless nights, I read every cycling blog I could get my hands on, I read all the cycling sub-Reddits, and national and international newspaper articles – all looking for reassurance that what I was about to do was safe and was possible for someone like me.
I read this awesome woman, who works in my city, and I think used to work in my industry, who lives her life and schlepps her kids and has interstate holidays - all on bikes. She teaches classes in how to ride in heels and she yells back at judgemental drivers and pedestrians. She’s a tireless advocate for cycling, and I love her work.
I also read this woman, who seemed a bit more serious at first, but actually is an awe-inspiring bike-advocate in local politics, in transport issues, she attends political meetings and takes notes and holds candidates accountable when they contradict themselves, and she likes wine and chocolate and shopping by bike, and is sadly on the other side of the world. I was distraught when her blog abruptly stopped, imagining some sort of an accident, but relieved to discover she’d just moved to twitter and instagram.
I read Bike Snob NYC (and all the spin-off snobs) and managed to set off on my bike without punching anyone in the throat, although it can be a close thing. I read Fat Cyclist. I trawled Pinterest for great bike pics and followed them back to blogs and articles; I meant to keep track of everyone I read and include them on a post like this one day, but I just lost track of how many there were. Because some of these guys have been going for 5 or 6 or 7 years. And I read everything they’d written.
What I found was that the blog posts themselves calmed me down and gave me confidence as well as a completely new perspective on certain issues. The trick is DON’T READ THE COMMENTS.
For every positive and encouraging comment, there were ten horror stories of the very kind of thing I was trying to stop myself thinking of. There weren’t too many trolls, but I enjoy a good smack-down so even they didn’t faze me.
The earnest, well-meaning cycling community with their humble-brag war-stories was the danger-zone.
Spokes(wo)man (@Spokes_wo_man) joined Twitter this weekend; much as I have avoided it for personal use, it is turning out to useful for the blog.
I saw Sarah's link to her blog post titled "what's your legacy", which got me thinking about some other stuff, but I impulsively tweeted her to say "thanks" for the encouragement when I was anxious about starting. I'm part of her legacy, and it gave me the warm fuzzies to have the opportunity to acknowledge that.