I am one of the 34 Winnipeggers optimistic enough to rely on the bicycle as a mode of transportation. I cycle to work probably four times per week. I met a man in the elevator who told me that he had cycled to work every day since Easter, in a manner that suggested I ought to respect him because of this — I did not.
I have a very good excuse for not cycling every day: it’s very hard. The bicycle may be a tremendously efficient use of energy when ridden, but it’s a nightmare in between rides. The fact is relying on a bicycle for transportation is a way of life, whether you like it or not.
Perhaps the most frustrating element of the cyclist lifestyle is maintenance.
For example, my bicycle has developed a new malady at least once per week for the past eight months. For the past five, an undetectable force operating somewhere in the vicinity of my rear wheel has been puncturing the succession of tubes with which I have supplied it.
Two weeks ago, minutes after leaving my house work-bound, I braked as I approached an intersection and sailed through, necessitating another brake adjustment in a seemingly infinite series.
This made me late for work, as my bicycle has often done.
Once I got to work I was dusty, sweating and frustrated as I often am after my morning’s commute. My clothes, as they always are, were — despite being carefully rolled and packed — wrinkled and smelled of my lunch, with which they shared a bag.
These, of course, are the other commitments Bike to Work Day won’t tell you about: packing your work clothes (God forbid you wear a suit) into a backpack and attempting to shower in a public washroom.
All told, I estimate that I spend more than twice as much time preparing to cycle than I do cycling.
If you picked up this edition of the Manitoban for the bicycle feature, you probably hold me in a certain quantity of contempt now. I, you will likely think, want all the benefits of owning a bicycle without the responsibilities — it’s true.
I already have a lifestyle. It’s one wherein I iron my shirts and watch Seinfeld reruns in the evenings, and I enjoy it. Bicycle commuting is a commitment I am not ready for. It’s too far to walk though, and I don’t have a car, so we’ll have to stay together until the rapid transit is done.