When I made the decision to park my car and use my bike for transportation year-round, it seemed like a huge, unthinkable commitment.
To ease into it, I started simply: a bike commute once a week to work, a short ride to the store or a leisurely ride around the lake was all it took. Soon, I was cycling to work more often, riding to stores that were further away and riding with groups for fun. This has been my way of life for the last six years and it's completely changed my life. Here's how jumping on a bike can change yours too:
1. Your shopping habits change.
When you can only buy what you can carry on a bike (using a backpack or bags that attach to a rack), you buy less stuff. You don't make impulse purchases. You plan out grocery runs and get organized and consolidate your trips because no one wants to have to hop back on the bike for round two of groceries once you're home and unpacked.
2. Your eating habits change.
You're no longer just eating to not be hungry. You're eating to fuel yourself. You're topping off your tank. You realize that junk food doesn't fuel you as well as wholesome stuff. You drink a lot of water. You're aware of what you're putting into your body because you're going to use it on the bike.
3. Your food priorities change.
When I switched to cycling full-time, I stopped buying soda and other drinks. Why? Because that stuff is heavy. It made me realize that it also must cost suppliers a lot of money to ship all the weight around, which meant that what I was paying for when I bought a Gatorade was less about the actual product and more about the shipping costs. I still buy some liquids, but I'm careful to note if I really need them.
4. You're given a whole new view of your surroundings.
On a bike, you notice new things about your surroundings you probably hadn't ever paid attention to before. You start to explore parks you never knew about. I lived in a city and suddenly realized I could get from one area of the city to another via a route that took half the time of vehicular travel. It was amazing!
5. You start to recognize the true value of goods.
Some say our society is too materialistic, others say we aren't materialistic enough. That is, if we were better materialists, we would recognize the true value and utility of good products and wouldn't be swayed by marketing to buy things we don't need.
Cycling is a great way to start recognizing and differentiating the good from the bad. What outdoor gear lives up to daily use? (Look how these wool socks keep my feet warm even when they're wet!) What food is worth its price in nourishment? There is truly no end to the fascinating things to learn about the world around us!
6. You find new friends.
Other people are out there on bikes, too! Now you see them going the other way on their commute and you nod in acknowledgement that you're both outdoors, pedaling yourselves to work, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. Maybe you find people to ride with like I did. Maybe you'll befriend your local bike mechanic who works hard to keep your ride in top shape.
These are just a handful of the ways my life has changed since I started riding year-round. I started in the summer when it was easiest, and when the days got colder, I just put a bit more clothing on until the new year rolled around and I could start removing it, piece by piece. By the next summer I was fitter than ever, ate better, had more friends, knew the city better and had learned loads about myself that I never could have if I'd just kept on driving down the road.
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