Bike Rides

It has been a while since I last posted. I’m hoping to be more active and shoot for a post a week if not more. I wanted to share a bit about my experience with riding a bicycle for the first time in 20 years and how it has provided me with some much needed motivation.

Recently Drew and I got bicycles. A big part of finally taking the plunge is simply because it’s fun and we can get around the city more easily than a train or bus without having to drive everywhere. Another big part of this is to have more activity in our day to day lives. Much of our weekends were spent hanging around the house and driving to get food.

An aspect of riding around the city that I didn’t necessarily consider is that of confidence. When the mention of getting bicycles first came up, I admit I was pretty apprehensive. I wasn’t sure it was something I wanted to do, all I can think about is falling off, getting hurt, or simply not knowing if I’ll really enjoy it. I wouldn’t say I fought the decision but I did have some serious questions about it, but in retrospect it was me just not wanting to do something different, fearing that I’d somehow fail. When I went on my first ride in 20 years with Drew and his dad, I wasn’t feeling it, I wasn’t comfortable, and I overthought everything. I tripped up a couple of times, felt like I wasn’t getting a feel for it, and it hurt. I was already telling myself I’ll humor this thought and then I’ll just move on and pretend it doesn’t exist. On our first ride through our neighborhood, I realized I couldn’t even properly make a right turn, freaking out into an intersection and eventually going headfirst into a curb. I was shaken and wanted to go home. Drew was amazing during all of this: he led us to a big empty parking lot and we did figure 8s for the rest of our ride, making me follow him around and checking to make sure that I was getting a hang of it.

It definitely got better. After the 2nd or 3rd time, I felt more confident and happy with the rides. It was freeing in a way to be able to move around the city at a speed that allowed me to go a great distance while still being able to experience everything around me. Now I lead us on most of our rides, navigating through different neighborhoods, avoiding hazards on the road, and overall just having a great time. It gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment that I feel I have otherwise been lacking in my daily life, it was a very good thing. The best ride so far was going down to Pilsen from our home on the Northside. It was a longer and more tiring ride but we made it both ways, not bad for being new to riding. Most importantly it made me happy, it made me feel like I can and want to do more with it and go on longer, more difficult rides. It is one of the few things that I can see myself doing (maybe with a nudge) even when I’m not feeling the best.

I find myself thinking about my progress with learning web development when reflecting on what I’ve done on my bicycle. A lot of the same doubts and insecurities that came up when I first started riding are definitely something that I deal with when learning Ruby, JavaScript, or whatever tool that is new to me that I start exploring. I have never done any of this so my reaction is I’m going to fall, I’m not going to make it. I then think about the first successful ride and how I’ve gotten surer of myself over time. There have been so many times over the past couple of years where I just didn’t want to continue because I hit my head against a wall, but I kept at it. There is nothing forcing me to other than the desire to do more, to keep at it and see where the ride takes me. When I finally figure out that new feature to add into a Rails project or a new bit of syntax that solves a coding challenge, I get that sense of accomplishment and realize why I got on the bike in the first place. Even thinking back on that parking lot and doing figure 8s, it is something easy, something for beginners, but it was a win, something I did. Ultimately, I know this is what I want to do and keep doing to see how far I can go. I didn’t think much about how getting a bicycle and riding around was going to impact me but it has provided a level of perspective that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. My desire to be a better rider and programmer are what keep me going and give me confidence, but more importantly give me the realization that I can accomplish a lot when I take pride in my work and keep going for more.

Written on August 31, 2015