Last night I was riding my bicycle home from NDG and was feeling a bit sad that it’s getting to be too cold to ride for much longer. I guess I’ve always known how to ride a bike: my mom never knew how but my aunt taught me in parking lots when I was a kid (for which I am eternally grateful). Learning to ride a bike in the city felt like learning all over again though: the traffic, distractions, other cyclists, angry motorists and bike lane politics make it entirely unlike the traffic-calmed residential areas I rode in as a child. There’s an imperative to be a bit fearless and ballsy (especially in a city like Montreal) lest you get door’d or end up in someone’s blind spot at the wrong moment. With some serious patience from my gentleman-friend, I went from being incredibly anxious and timid to being a pretty serious fixie rider with a huge amount of nerve and awesome legs.
I’ve been working on expressing gratitude more lately, and I think learning to bike (properly) in the city is one of the things I feel most grateful for in the past few years. It’s given me such an incredible sense of freedom and autonomy, trust in my body, and certainty in my own judgement. It has changed the way I see and experience my city, and made me feel a huge sense of ownership and belonging in the street that I never had before. More than getting me out of the miserable underground system or giving me a new way to take care of my body, cycling has also given me an excuse to enjoy solitude. TIme that used to feel wasted in transit is all of a sudden mine to spend wondering and daydreaming, as a chance to decompress or to shake off anxiety. It has become an enormously therapeutic, meaningful thing in my life—maybe the way some people feel about yoga—and some of my best ideas lately have happened on two wheels.
This is my bike, and today I’m feeling really grateful about it.