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From the Ridiculous to the Sublime

May 16, 2010

Both useful machines, but only one is "fun".


I was reminded how much fun bicycle commuting is last Thursday when I took my car into work as I needed the extra cargo capacity it offers. After 10 minutes in traffic listening to the simpletons on morning radio I was tempted to keep driving to Schnapper Rock and end my commute and life in unison, it was that bad.

Working in the burbs it’s not too difficult to find a parking space, so that hassle (and expense) is avoided, but it’s anyone’s guess what extra paint colours have been added to your vehicle during the course of the day. Luckily my Toyota is equipped with little wires that retain the bulbs when courier vans reverse into my lights. If you’re in the market for a new car I recommend you forgo the airbags and get this last feature installed.

On the return leg that evening I’m fighting the air-conditioning trying to catch a glimpse of the road through the mist as I furiously search for sanity on the airwaves. After hearing of Ethel of Te Awamutus hemorrhoid debacle, P. Diddy’s sexual prowess and a kazoo rendition of “bridge over troubled water” I’m pulling into my driveway before a decent song is found or windscreen de-misted. By definition this was not a fun experience.


Friday dawns and it’s back to my normal routine of cycle commuting. I don’t feel the need for music as I’m having a great time as it is. The sun is on my back and the birds are singing to me rather than crapping on my windshield. The flattened hedgehogs from the previous day have re-inflated and wave to me as I pass by, their shattered limbs held aloft like olive branches of forgiveness. If I get too hot I slow my pace, too cold and I up the tempo. All is at peace in my world.

I recently read that people don’t commute by bicycle because it’s fun. I can’t agree with that sentiment. Sure, people aren’t going to cycle for transport because it’s good for the planet or good for their bodies, well not many anyway. You need to make it fast and convenient to get more uptake (and only good bicycle infrastructure will do that), but in a spread-out city like Auckland a cycle journey will seldom be quicker than the fossil-fueled alternatives. It has to be enjoyable to be compelling and I enjoy it rain, hail or shine.

I love cycling up hills – it’s challenging. I love cycling on the flats – it’s meditative. I love cycling down hills – it’s exhilarating. I love cycling into headwinds – it’s character-building. I’m not so keen on cold water running down my bum-crack in a deluge, but some people pay good money for such experiences so who am I to judge?

What I’m trying to say is my main motivation for riding a bike to work is the pure joy it brings me. I’m not saving much money, it’s no quicker than driving, I don’t need to lose weight and I’m not detouring to massage whales on the way. Riding bikes is just fun, and I like fun a lot.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 19, 2010 2:18 pm

    Couldn’t agree more about cycling being fun. I commute by bike in Kansas, USA. My trip is only 5 1/2 miles one way. I could take the bus if I wanted to be more environmentally friendly, but there’s something so pleasant and contemplative about cycling that I can’t imagine giving it up. I even ride in snow and sub-zero temperatures. It feels that good.

    • May 19, 2010 11:29 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. My commute is even shorter than yours! I do admire riders such as yourself that continue to ride when the snow starts falling. It never drops below freezing here in Auckland so I get to wear shorts all year round.

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