This was my first week of commuting by bike this year (!!). The spring came excruciatingly slowly to the Ottawa region this year, and I did not feel particularly compelled to battle the snow banks and icy conditions to actively commute during the winter. But this week, the sun muscled through the cold, I suited up, and got to bike to work at last.
As I cruised down Conroy and wove through subdivisions, I caught myself smiling. I was just riding along, grinning like a fool. It caused me to wonder how often I smile during my commute. I can’t remember the last bus journey that I felt vibrantly alive, boldly adventurous, and stunningly free. Resultantly, I have been thinking of trying to measure things in terms of how much happiness they contribute to my life.
In honour of the “work-end” (working on the weekend), I chose to meet up with a friend downtown at a charming coffee shop to work. Since it is beautifully sunny and wonderfully warm, I decided to bike the 20k to meet her here, which turned out to be an adventure worthy of a video game character.
Super mario cycling
I started the route strong, getting a boost in size and strength when I found the bike lanes north of Hunt Club had just been cleaned by the street sweeper.
I expertly dodged myriad potholes, gaining points for skills, speed, and agility.
By Pleasant Park, I had levelled up and moved onto a much more challenging stage. I decided to take the Riverside path route, which could be great (a separated bike path along the river that brings me right downtown) or challenging (still covered in snow; impassible to road bikes).
I quickly discovered it was the later. I was dodging puddles, small snow banks and ice patches, and lots of twigs and debris. A large tree was lying across the path at one point, requiring a dismount and muddy detour.
As I continued, I was halted at a point where the swollen river had engulfed the bike path, guarded by geese, making it impassible to bikes. The detour was soggy and the mud seeped into my leather boots.
Then came the snow… I dismounted and pushed my bike as it skidded across the expanse of snow and ice. I travelled a km or two, before encountering a couple on mountain bikes. They wisely advised me to TURN BACK NOW as the snow has conquered the bike path. Rather than retracing my steps, I chose the off-roading option in order to bee-line my way back to the road.
Despite the thistles and waist-high dead grass tubers, I eventually made it back to the road and was once again on my way. Not much longer, a few lung-busting hills, and I made it!
I triumphantly entered the coffee shop to rescue Kylie from productivity and boredom (I am such a good friend :P).
As I replenish my strength with coffee and nutrients, I am already excited for my next great bike adventure.
I hope your work-end and week is full of smiles and adventures.
PS. If you have forgotten what it feels like to explore the world by bike, check out this song which perfectly captures the wide-eyed wonder of travelling by bike.