by Grace Ellen
For the last six days, I’ve biked seven miles round trip. I’m taking a summer class at one of the universities here in town, and I thought it would be a good idea to leave my car at home
When I told my husband that I wanted to bike to class, he told me all the reasons it wasn’t a good idea. I didn’t drop the topic (i.e. nagged until he realized I wouldn’t give up on the idea). Then he brought out his secret weapon, the words he knew would deter me: So, I had a premonition of your death, he started, not looking at me.
Uh-huh, I said.
Well, it wasn’t really a premonition, he continued. It’s more like I thought about what will happen when you
die on your bike. Like what it will be like having to raise the baby by myself. And who I’d tell first. I guess I’d call someone in my family and give them the job of calling other people. And being home with the baby this past month, I don’t want to raise him alone.
Okay, fine. I won’t do it, I conceded. I don’t want to die.
No, no, no, that’s not what I meant, he backtracked.
Well, what did you mean?
It’s just that I worry. Not so much about you, but about other people. Other people are idiots. Cars don’t pay attention to where they’re going. I don’t want you to die.
We had several conversations like this, and I started to doubt my grand idea. My anxiety kicked in, and I began saying things like I want to be buried in Orange, or I just want to see my baby grow up. I worried up until the day before class, when my husband had to practically push me out the door to do a practice run.
I got on my bike. I wobbled and teetered and almost fell, and then I took off. I huffed and puffed my way down the streets and up a hill and on and off of sidewalks up to the university and back home again.
I loved it. Yes, I looked like an idiot in my off-fitting helmet, and I had some near run-ins with pedestrians, but I loved it. When I came home, the endorphins had kicked in, and I breathlessly told my husband, I can feel my arm fat melting off.
You were feeling your arm fat on the bike? he asked.
Yep. It’s going away. I was excited about all the good things biking to class was going to do for me. I was going to get skinny. I’d be setting a good example for my kid (not that he can comprehend what I’m doing), and I’d be doing my part to spread out the $40+ I’m spending to fill up my Civic.
I’m loving biking to class. I don’t mind being the smelly kid in class. Being on my bike gives me a new perspective on my beloved city. I’m able to people watch and architecture watch. I also get to see the mixed bag of people who wander into the local porn store.
But I was overly optimistic about the results of biking. I don’t feel any thinner, and for some reason I can’t understand, the numbers on the scale keep climbing this week. I don’t think I’m building muscle either. It’s harder than I expected to roll out of bed at 6:45 in the morning and bike bleary-eyed up a hill that seems more like Mt. Everest. I have to go in and out of the street, dodging pedestrians, cars and other bikers. When I get home I’m exhausted and hungry, and with only 20 points allowed each day, I have a hard time finding something to eat that doesn’t cancel out the activity points I earned by biking.
I’m also having more fun than I expected. I look forward to the challenges I’ll face each day, and each day I get a little braver. I ride on the streets more and on the sidewalks less. Even though I can’t see or feel the results, I’m sure they are there somewhere. And I haven’t died. Yet.