Biking Beats Driving
Riding on two wheels instead of on four.
“The more you use your body, the better it gets. It is the only machine that the more you use it, the better it will be.” –Ramón Morato, my uncle
I once wrote a post about being car-less. This is one goes deeper into cycling instead of using a car.
Every morning, when I arrive at the office sweating and giving off intense body heat, people ask me how it’s possible that I ride my bike to work almost every day. I, in turn, smile behind my cheap sunglasses, as I remove my helmet, and tell them that it’s in reality my favorite part of the day.
What I think cracks my office mates’ heads the most, is that they are not used to seeing someone like me (Mexico context) making a conscious decision to ditch the car and use the bike. If you can afford to own a car, why on Earth wouldn’t you have and use one?
In lightning fashion, I will tell you why I choose to transport myself around the city on a bicycle, instead of an automobile or other means of transportation.
- Traffic sucks. The city of Guadalajara, which I currently call home, is no exception. At peak hours, driving turns into a familiar version of a nightmare. When I used to drive, this would really weigh on me. I would become stressed, and I felt as if my life was going down the drain, one traffic light at a time.
- No parking problems. Today, the first thing the receptionist at the office told me was: “Lucky you, you don’t have to waste time finding a parking spot.” In crowded cities, parking is almost always a headache. Time is our most precious resource, so I would hate to be forced to invest it in such a lame activity, as parking is.
- I see the city from a different perspective. I see the trees gently swaying with the evening breeze. I smell the fresh scent of the morning hours. I see the smile of other cyclists, getting a high of their own on endorphins. I see the buildings; I notice their details; I notice how each neighborhood has its own, unique personality. I feel the wind against my face and realize I’m alive and well. And I see all of this because I am out in the open, riding my bicycle and being there and then. If I wasn’t present and acutely aware of my surroundings, I would probably be putting my life in considerable danger.
- It’s therapeutical for relieving stress. As I mentioned in the previous point, I get an endorphin high while pushing the pedals. I also enjoy my surroundings in a more profound way. This thus results in an excellent stress-relief therapy. This is why cycling is my favorite part of the day. I get to enjoy my music, to talk to myself and to reflect on the day that is either starting or is ending. It is truly a philosophical moment in which I relax and feel happy.
- As transportation, it’s more practical. In my case, it’s more practical than running (another activity I deeply enjoy), since running would get me all soaked and smelly to work (where there are no showers). Buses and public transportation are another good option, but I have found that it takes less time for me to cycle than to ride buses, mainly because I have to ride two buses and it takes time to jump from one to the other. I’ve raced my roommates (who are also my co-workers) from the office to our house and I have beat them there, even as I am biking and they are bus-ing.
- I feel that I can. I bike 10 kilometers to work and another 10 back, almost every day. Sometimes, I bike to work and also go for a 10 kilometer run. This makes me feel that I can do shit. I’m capable of physical challenges, so I’m probably capable of intellectual, professional, and personal challenges as well. My confidence goes through a noticeable boost and my overall productivity and sense of accomplishment goes up. Talk about a virtuous circle, and it derives from exercise to a great extent.
- I want to use my body. I absolutely love food. I would even go as far as saying that I am strongly passionately about eating. That being said, with so much fuel going into my system, it’s imperative that I engage in activities that burn that fuel, or else it will build up in my body. Using my body physically makes me feel that I am using the fuel I am putting into it. It feels right and efficient. I also constantly think about the quote my uncle told me (the one at the beginning of this post). Our bodies were designed for heavy use. Back when we were cavemen, we spent our whole days walking, hunting, running, carrying stuff and moving around. Modern, sedentary life is slowly killing us, because our bodies weren’t made to sit around all day inside an office. If we don’t use it, we’ll lose it.
- After doing it, I feel satisfied, happy and fresh. The most compelling evidence that biking is a value-adding activity to my daily life, is how happy I feel when I’m done. As I mentioned before, I might arrive at the office sweating, dirty and smelly, but the effort is all well worth it. Biking and exercising represent a pillar that keeps me together in my 10-12 hour workdays, 6 days a week. Thanks to the constant flow of endorphins going through my system, I can still be a happy person amid this hectic pace of life.
The intention of this post is by no means trying to persuade you or convince you to bike like crazy. Like other physical activities, biking is not for everyone. I simply have been feeling so good this week because of biking, that I wanted to share it with whoever is interested.