On Sunday, July 17, I went on Le Tour De Norfolk staring and completing in Delhi, Ontario.
160KM riding in pure joy – at least most of it. Norfolk county is a nice part of Ontario for cycling if you like flat roads. There were a couple of crazy hills, but you can avoid them if you are not into climbing hills. Certain parts of the ride are extremely windy.
Norfolk County is mostly farmland with a few wind mills. I always wondered how farmers manage to water their crops, and that day I saw it for myself – they had these huge sprinklers.
Hydration and refueling your body with energy is essential; having a twizzler, or a banana, or an orange while doing 160KM feels like the best thing in the world. I usually find energy/granola bars etc… too sweet for my taste, but even one bite of it while riding long distances is a life saver.
Bike Month in the Great Toronto Hamilton area starts on May 30th, which is also “Bike to Work Day”.
Bike Month is a great time to take your old bikes out or get new ones and ride it out with friends, family or just fellow bike enthusiast. If you don’t have a bike and don’t want to buy one, there is also the Bike Share programs in Toronto which you can take advantage of. Why not try it out for Bike to Work Day? Sign up for Bike to Work and you could win a brand new bike!
It’s that time of the year again. I attended the Bike the Creek Event last year and it was amazing. I got to meet new people, explored the Etobicoke Creek trail for the first time and got to explore the Brampton area a little.
This year it is happening on June 18, 2016.
This is a fun filled family event. The event is free, but you do have to register.
There are 4 rides to choose from.
11 km approx. Bike the Creek Family Ride –10:15am start (1-2 hrs) short north route
16 km approx. Bike the Creek Nature Ride – 10:00am start (2-3 hrs) north route
25 km approx. Bike the Creek City Ride – 9:15am start (2-4 hrs) – south route
41 km approx. Bike the Creek End-to-End Ride – 9:00am start (3-4 hrs for experienced riders) north followed by south route
I have been cycling for 2 months now and I must say it is one of the best habits that I have gotten myself into in many years. I have had my bike for more than 8 years, but I doubt that before now I had even ridden it for more than 8 hours. I started riding that old mountain bike first on a nearby multi-use paved trail, then on the road for short distances, then I pushed myself a little further and soon I realized I needed a road bike, so I went and bought myself a road bike. When came bike month, I had an extra bit of motivation to keep riding. I did the “Bike the Creek Event” in Brampton, organized my own event and overall cycling has had a manifold positive impact on my life.
There are some lessons that I have learned from Cycling.
If it is important to you, you will make it happen
If it is important to you, you will make it happen, if not, you will find excuses. I learned this lesson when I started to invite friends to bike with me. Of course, some had genuine reasons to not come. Some were too busy to come, some had not biked in many years, some didn’t own a bike and either didn’t want to spend the money to buy one or wanted to wait for the season to be over so that they could get it cheap at a clearance event and the list goes on. These are all valid reasons, yet I find these same people are not too busy to spend countless hours watching reruns of their favourite and not so favourite TV shows, cannot wait to make an expensive purchase of things which they probably don’t even need,..so on… and you get my point. I’m not judging them; my point is, if it is important to you you will make it happen.
On the other end of the spectrum, I have a friend, who didn’t have a bike, had not ridden one in more than a decade, has a bad knee, and yet somehow managed to come ride with me on a 40KM+ stretch with multiple hills with me. He asked me if I had a spare bike which I did, he went and bought himself a helmet, put a knee sleeve to protect his knee and showed up way earlier than his usual saturday morning wakeup time. Why? In his own words: being active is important to him.
So the next time you find yourself wanting to do something, but it is not something that you are actually doing, maybe it is just not that high in your priority list, and instead of beating yourself for not doing it, just figure out where your priorities lie and question whether they are justified?
If you do what you love, you’ll start loving what you do
Let’s face it; not everything that we do, we actually like doing let alone love doing it. Most people don’t LOVE their job, most might like it, but there are very few who actually love what they do. That is the reason people need vacations and they call it a ‘retreat’. Just google the words “meaning of retreat” and see what you get.
There might be things that you love doing, but you may not have been doing them because you have other ‘important’ things do do. If you just shifted your priorities a little and allocated some time and effort to do the things that you love, that joy and feeling of accomplishment will translate into a stress buster and sip into other areas of your life, whether it be your work, your health, your relationships, your spiritual life and more. When you make time to do what you love, you’ll end up loving what you do – I speak from personal experience! 🙂
If you push just a little more, you will go a lot further
If you push just a little more, you will go a lot further than your imagined. There have been times when my legs felt the burn, my back hurt, shoulders almost gave up, but in that moment I pushed a little more and then a little more and when I checked on my GPS, almost always I was greeted with an amazing and pleasant surprise. Sometimes I end up covering more distance than I had imagined and I usually get to something interesting.
Life is like that too. Most people give up and figuratively speaking get off their bikes or turn around and go back home to a place that’s comfortable at the sight of the slightest incline. Sometimes all it takes is a little push, a bit of hard work and we can accomplish things that you previously thought were impossible. You can apply this principle to sports and fitness, education, business and finance or any other endeavour that you can imagine.
Go the extra mile – it’s worth it!
To get something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done
I have seen and discovered more things about Brampton and the surrounding area in the past 4 weeks than I have in the past 4 years. I try to take different routes every time I go for a ride and every single time I’m greeted with new discoveries.
For the Bike The Creek event, I took my bike with me on the Brampton Transit bus which I had never done before. I used the presto card for the first time and I was amazed at how much better the bus ride has become over the past 7 or 8 years.
To get something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done – If you think about it, isn’t this true for life in general. Why is it that you have never had the kind of house, car, income, relationship, body, spirituality that you truly desire? If you keep doing what you have always been doing, you will get what you have always gotten. A great definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over gain and expecting a different result.
If you don’t want to fall, you gotta keep moving
Just recently I taught a friend in their 20s how to ride a bicycle. Most people learn how to ride a bicycle early on in their life, but it’s never too late to learn anything new. I noticed that this person was afraid to fall and so was trying to move slowly. I told them the key is to keep moving, if you stop or slow down you will fall, you have to keep pedalling if you want to stay up.
Then it hit me! Isn’t that a great lesson in life? You have to keep moving, whatever happens in life, good or bad, you have to keep moving forward. If something bad happens to you whether it is a heart break, divorce, someone dumps you, someone betrays your trust, you are faced with financial difficulty, you are having health issues, you got fired from work, you end up in an embarrassing situations, or whatever the case maybe, you have to move on with your life sooner or later. If you stop and keep thinking about the bad things that happened, you’ll fall deeper into depression, negativity, anger and it’ll be harder to get back up again.
Likewise if something good happens in life, a promotion, graduation, you achieve your health goal, get married, fall in love whatever the case may be, you still have to keep moving to the next step. If you stop and spend all your time wanting to stay in that same moment, life will pass by and you won’t even realize and you will fall. Celebrating your victories is an important part of life, but wanting to stay in that moment forever is merely wishful thinking.
What is the opposite of movement? Stagnation. Stagnation is death. Think about it. How do you know if someone is dead. You identify it by them not moving, their pupils won’t move or react to light variations, their heart won’t move – no heart beat, their brains seizes to function, blood doesn’t flow through the body.
A little over 6 months ago I was forced to let go of my car because I was involved in an accident and the car was a write off. Instead of getting a new car, I decided that I would not get a new car until I was certain I actually needed one. The car free life might not work for everyone, but it does work for a surprising number of people if they are willing to make some adjustments in their life.
In my case, it was a very easy decision to make and one that I do not regret at all. In fact my life probably has gotten better because of not having a car. But that can also be because my life is as such. I have deliberately designed my life in such a way that I do not have to commute to work, I choose my work hours, I choose whom to work with, what to work on and how much to work on it. Of course all that freedom can be the ultimate boon, but if not handled with care, it can also be a curse. After all with great power comes great responsibility, and in this case the power is total freedom. But what does all that have to do with living a car-free life?
Not having a car meant there were some constraints in my life. I could not travel when I wanted to, I could not be spontaneous with my travel plans, even grabbing a cup of coffee or breakfast became something that needed some planning. Of course there is also the status symbol to battle with, but thankfully I was not victimized by my mind in this respect because I almost always live by the saying
Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.
Challenging The Status Symbol
If nothing at all, it has been a great social experiment. For example, I was with a group of friends when the topic of cars came up and a particular car brand was mentioned(I can’t remember which car it was) but I casually said, “Nah, I don’t like that car”, to which my friend mockingly replied,
“That’s coz you can’t afford one” letting out a laugh and an insulting look on his face before realizing that his remarks may have come off as being insensitive, yet not enough to warrant a genuine apology. As I write this, I wonder how they would react if I drove my new Tesla S to their driveway. If there is any car that I actually want to own in the near future despite of my car free philosophy that I’m experimenting with, it as to be the Tesla S – you know because it’s an electric car and it’s good for the environment and all. ;-).
There are numerous other situations like these that tested my commitment to go car free for as long as I could. It has been 6 months now and things just keep getting better.
Not owning a car saves quite a bit of money and yes you might know this logically or mathematically but when you actually see how much you’re saving, it may just surprise you a little bit. You don’t have to pay for auto insurance and if you live in my city, you know that that can be a big deal! Cost of fuel and maintenance is another thing that is out of the list of bills. There will of course be times when you do need a car because public transportation might not cut it. In those situations you can take a taxi or rent a car, and even then, at least for me the savings are very visible. For that to work, I had to develop another skill.
More Organized, Better Time Management
You cannot keep hiring a taxi or renting a car every time you need to go somewhere. I scheduled my meetings in such a way that I could get away with renting one car for the day and getting all my work done on the same day. Out of necessity I had to get efficient at my work and get better at scheduling meetings. I was always accustomed to steering clients towards having phone or Skype meetings when possible, but with the added constraint of not owning a car, I became better at managing my time. Scheduling back to back meetings means you have to learn to squeeze your preparation time and doing it enough number of times means you can get very good at it.
When I owned a car, I would sometimes drive in the middle of the night around 3AM to Denny’s or McDonalds to have a big meal while working on some project. Things like these of course causes your health to deteriorate slowly over time if you do it frequently. But if you remove the flexibility of having a car, the temptation of driving to a fast food place is removed(at least partially).
I started walking as part of my exercise routine, I then increased my frequency of walking and the distance I travelled every time I went out of a walk. I can now confidently walk for an hour and I use walking to get things done. Things like going to the bank, getting stationary or getting groceries are now tasks that I feel are quite easy even without a car. Not only am I staying active, I’m also noticing a lot more of my surroundings than I would if I were to travel the same route by car. It’s an amazing experience every time.
Recently I took out my old bicycle from my garage. It had collected some dust and rust because of all the neglect of so many years. I cleaned it and applied some needed fixes and started cycling. Now sometimes instead of walking to my destination I cycle to it and it takes me half the time. Not only is cycling healthy, it is also a lot of fun. I was an avid cyclist when I was in high school but as time went by, I went from an avid cyclist to the guy who says “I had a bicycle once”. Cycling has brought back so much joy and fun that I had all forgotten about.
All these are benefits to me, but living a car free life is not all a selfish act. I am helping the environment by doing my part in reducing greenhouse gas emission. Living a car-free life also means you’re doing your part in easing traffic congestion.
As you can see living a car free life is a win-win for all. This is my take on living a car free life.
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