Tuesday, November 10, 2009


this is going to be my second-last week of bicycle commuting in the city of toronto, and i'm trying to decide if i'm going to miss it.

due to recent job switching and general whatnot, my commute to work will be cut in half by frequency, and that half will be cut by about 80% in distance. i feel like some part of my identity will erode as my chain will corrode from lack of use.

i have been commuting by bicycle for the last 8 years or so, making my way around toronto in a gradually maturing fashion. it began with carefreeness and happiness and the challenge of threading tight lines through traffic. then i became aware of doors and poor nighttime vision for drivers and unlit cyclists. then i got hit by cars. then i hit cars. i rode with a messenger bag. i rode with panniers. i almost always rode road bikes. i tried fixies. i rode mountain bikes through the winter. i switched to a messenger backpack. i tried panniers again. i rode through the winter. i became a true bicycle commuter. neoprene booties, reflective anklets, panniers, fenders, huge lights, tires called 'city slicker', i've had it all, and all of it was completely not hip. 

i look enough like a commuter to get the nod from fellow co-mmu-ters. i ride a singlespeed that's not fixed and i don't have a moustache so i get no nod from hipsters (the pannier and backpack also throw them off, along with the helmet). and there's no nod from messengers because, although i kinda ride like they do sometimes, i'm not as fast and there's nothing so non-messenger as that damn pannier (or helmet). it's a lonely niche that i occupy, but i was startled to run into someone in the same niche just yesterday. we looked at each other and tried to figure out if we were seeing straight. it was uncanny yet satisfying. sometimes it's nice to not be so alone.

one of the problems of no longer commuting is that i will actually have to motivate myself to get on a bike every(other) day. right now, it's the only way i get anywhere, especially to work, so there's no question. of course i'm riding my bike 16 miles today. sometimes it's a question of which one. sometimes it's a question of how i'm going to fit everything on the trip. but it's never a question as to whether or not the trip will be made on two wheels. in fact, i've only missed one half-day of riding to work thus far, and that was because i already had too many bikes at school so i had to take some home without taking any more in. all this aside, i do wonder what it will be like to have the necessity taken out of the daily riding. in all likelihood, it should increase the enjoyment and rapha-esque nature of my time on a bike. commuting has a certain way of wearing down my love of riding. like brake pads after a good salty slush ride home, my love of bikes is sometimes worn down past the indicator lines, and left dripping all over my hardened, structured resolve. perhaps the lack of necessity will turn it into pure joy. unadulterated by pragmatic influence, two wheels will once again become a metaphor for escape, satisfaction, self-improvement, discipline, fitness, and all of those other things i forgot about in the last few months of work, and commuting to it.

whatever the case, i will continue to love bikes. i hope to continue to ride throughout the winter. i hope to keep up some form of two-wheeled fitness. but most of all, i hope to get the nod from other closet commuters who wish they could be out there, wearing their resolves to the bone when it's minus 40 and snowing.

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