April 1, 2014

Are You Crazy?

Reflecting back on biking through this winter, it’s not the frigid winds I battled or the snow I plowed through that made the greatest impression. Rather, I can’t stop thinking about how often I arrived somewhere by bike and was asked, “Are you crazy?”
I felt like I never had a good response to this question and it always seemed to catch me off guard. While it was never posed in a rude way, having your sanity questioned by others on a daily basis can make you wonder about yourself or just make you feel weird.  
Continuing to bike during the colder months makes sense to me for all of the reasons I have described in previous posts, so I tried to better understand the statement in the question. I think usually it's meant as a pat on the back rather than a personal jab, like I must be proud to be a “crazy, hardcore winter biker.” However, I would not describe myself that way.
I thought about an appropriate way to respond. Because the question can seem to be committing the faux pas of judging someone else’s lifestyle choice to their face, it's sometimes tempting to give a snarky response. Probably just as off-putting would be to pontificate about the benefits of bicycling to the environment and one’s health. Too brief of a reply or just shrugging off the question wastes having someone else’s ear. Instead, I want to use the opportunity to advocate for biking year-round by letting them know that I don’t think I'm something special for doing so. For me, biking during the winter isn't some act of self-sacrifice on behalf of the planet. I actually find it personally rewarding.
Then one day, it just came out. I was greeted with the usual question by a stranger and I was able to answer in a way that I think describes why I continue my life by bike throughout the seasons:

“I get a lot out of the time I spend on my bike each day. It both relaxes and energizes me. It gives me time with my thoughts or to observe the world around me. It makes me feel good. It’s such a pleasant part of my day that cold weather isn’t enough to make me stop and it’s not something I can give up for months out of the year.”

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