One year, 11 months, and some odd hours since I last rode a bike in a city (not counting Burning Man). Last time I rode a bike through the streets I was hit by a car, rushed to John’s Hopkins Hospital, received 25+ stitches right under my knee cap, and had to learn how to walk all over again. I am lucky no serious damage occurred to my knee cap, the driver missed it by a hair. There are so many what if’s in that scenario, but it doesn’t matter. It happened, during the height of my yoga teacher training, my third consecutive month of all raw foods, and summer travel. After the accident, I returned to cooked foods, lounging around, attempting supta yoga postures, combating transitional depression, and hobbling around to pre-accident planned trips.
I didn’t set out to not ride a bike for that long of a time in a city, life flowed that way. It wasn’t like the time when I was 5 and bucked off a horse in an indoor ring with no injuries. I couldn’t just get back in that proverbial saddle. There is healing involved with a wound to a leg split open and sewed back together. It took me 2+ months to walk at a normal pace, not a DC walking pace, a normal walking pace. I am scared still even when walking about getting hit by a car. I moved out of Baltimore before I fully healed into Virginia and my bike was in storage. But today I rode a bike not once, but four times!
My morning Mysore yoga practice is easy to attend on Wednesday’s and Friday’s because I work from home. I drive my car, yes I am lazy, but I find it comforting, there isn’t the best public transit to the studio, and I do not have to pay to park until an hour into my session. What to do for Tuesday and Thursday? I see no reason to drive because my job is only a 20 minute walk away from the studio. Now entering….BIKE RIDING! I love being outside, not cooped up in a subway, seeing the sites, and the speed of a bike, but again, I am lazy. I do not want to ride my own bike to the studio and be responsible for locking it up and then biking home…there is a hill on the way home. Despite what everyone says, I do not think I am the person to get used to a hill or even begin to enjoy the challenge. Maybe one day, but today is not the day. Now bike riding downhill…I can do that 🙂
There is a capital bike share kiosk right outside my front door and one right outside the studio. I am thinking, jackpot! I can ride a bike then leave it,never worry about someone stealing the bike, repairs, or biking up the dreaded hill! Before I signed up for the whole membership I decided it is best to try out the bikeshare for a day. I wasn’t sure, will it work out? Will I freak out? Am I mentally prepared to ride near cars again? All of this running through my head this morning as I enter the code and take the bike out. I start on the sidewalks easing into the street when the sidewalk ends. Lucky for me it is 6am and most people aren’t on the road yet. I cruise down the street, going down the bumpy hill full of construction, looking at everything around me, feeling the cold air hit my nose, and a big grin comes to my face. I am doing it! I am riding a bike! I am conquering this fear of biking through the city. I am a true city dweller! Getting by with no car, no dependencies, feeling free ready to take on the world.
I pull up to the studio and see the capital bikeshare kiosk and WTF?! There is no place to put the bike. All the docking stations are full. What is a girl to do? I don’t want this bike…hell, I didn’t even know what I was doing on this bike in the first place. I guess I am so motivated to be at class I will risk my life and do the thing I am most scared of to get to class on time. Seriously, I am starting to lose my cool, is this a bad idea? Why in the world wouldn’t they know to have at least one open spot? How can anyone use the system if you can’t leave the bike when you get to your destination? Damnit I am here right on time and now I do not know what to do. I bike to the only other station close by and guess what?!?! No place to leave the bike there either! I pull up outside of the studio. Do I ask if I can bring it up before I go up there? No, these are one of those situations where you do first, ask later. Yes, I can be THAT girl sometimes. I start climbing up the narrow staircase with this heavy ass bike, trying to muster up my courage to not be fully embarassed when I crest the staircase with a clunky heavy city street bike in a quaint yoga studio.
A woman looks at me and says, “well you don’t see that everyday.” I agree, who does this? Lucky for me the person checking me in made accommodations for the bike. I hope to never do that again. After practice I walked the bike back down and started on my journey to work. This time there are more cars, but a funny thing happened on 15th street, they had a section for bikes to go in both directions and the parked cars blocked the moving cars from the bike lane. This was beautiful. I never thought about my route to work but I figured it out and the docking station right in front of my office building was free. Success! Despite the bike parking issue in the morning this bike share is pretty awesome.
I emailed and sent a message to the bike share customer service requesting they fix the issue. I understand they need bikes there for the early commute but sometimes there are people who bike before most commuters leave their house. They said there is an app that allows you to know the status of bikes at each station. I downloaded the app. I decided to go home and walk my dog during lunch so I took the metro home but then I thought, why not ride the bike back to work? A 20minute bike ride downhill might be pretty fun right now. This is just too much fun! This is the type of break that feels good during work. Less than an hour later I returned to work feeling fresh and free. Not my typical stay at the desk day. This is inspiring. Ideas are flowing for how to incorporate some bike action into the office. My third bike trip was a success.
Early that day I received a welcoming invitation to meet up for coffee in Dupont and figured why not? Drinking chamomile tea and writing in my journal as I waited for the person to arrive I realized what a wonderful city I live in, but what is the best is living as a tourist in my own city. Open to the possibilities of life. Having a set schedule but at the same time the flexibility to change course on a drop of a dime. After the meeting I decided happy hour was in session in my life….where to go? I googled best happy hours in Dupont and was underwhelmed by the choices and then I thought why not sushi? I guess all the endorphins had me going still from biking and I felt like making the best of the day. I found a cute quaint sushi place really close to where I was on 17th st and decided this is the spot. Not to mention they had a sweet restaurant week deal. I like to go to places alone sometimes and see who I can meet, maybe just read a book, or more than likely write in my journal. There I found my spot at the bar, but three ladies showed up and needed spots. I had one chair on either side of me empty so I moved to the end of the bar. Realizing that I probably might not sit next to anyone and that writing and enjoying this raw sake was my best bet at the moment. Then a girl walked up and set next to me with a book. I love women who read as I like to do so myself 🙂 I began pleasant conversation. At some point we got on the topic of me being a living muse. I inspired her to do something artistic and she inspired me to ride the bike share to U street metro instead of Dupont. Muhahhahahaha. I left the sushi place with a new friend, Sunday plans, and a possible idea to start a book club.
Time for my fourth trip on the bike. This time I multi-tasked and spoke on the phone with friends, conducted business, and rode through the streets. I have a head set so it was easy to talk and bike although maybe not the safest. I arrived to U street and there was no place to park the bike AGAIN! I went around for 20minutes trying to find a place to park the bike. By the time I returned to the first station there was an empty spot, so much for the app being right. I went down to the metro and sat to wait for the train looking at the clock I realized the time had come for the other invitation I received for an event on U street. I didn’t think I would still be out at 9pm but I was and figured hey, why not?! This bike riding has me doing the unexpected today. I guess a tribute night of reggae music to Bob Marley is in order.
I am not sure if I want to get a membership to the capital bike share, as everyone I explained my story to said this was a common problem, but I don’t know. I felt like I was at Burning Man today. On my bike, destination in mind, but the journey bringing me different places, new people, new events. I think living in a city that allows someone to get around in so many differnet ways is empowering. Who knows how many times I am going to bike some where just because I can without the commitment of biking to the next destination.
Limitations set upon myself opens doors of new possibilities. Maybe one day I will ride up that hill.
Limitless love and possibilities,