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The Pain of Bike Commuting

Let’s talk about making the bike commute fun again. The pain of bike commuting is that it gets repetitive after a while for many reasons. Maybe your gear isn’t right or you’ve stopped noticing the birds and trees. Or maybe the route you take sucks.

The First Time You Started Commuting

You might still recall the first time you completed your commute on your bike. It may have been a rude awaking of how out of shape you were (speaking of myself here) or it may have been an exhilarating time accompanied by a great sense of accomplishment. Even the following times that you complete the commute you often feel free, exuberant and proud.

Many of us, however, can’t help but become frustrated with the commute after some time. It becomes almost dreadful. Just thinking about the commute can make us cringe and even when starting out on the ride all we can think about it is how annoying and long it will be. And yet that moment when you reach your destination there is always that fleeting thought of success, that internal giant smile and the feeling that it really wasn’t that bad.

Mechanical & Repetitive

So what’s at the heart of these negative feelings that we develop towards our bike commute? We obviously know it’s good for us, good for the environment, we can’t help but experience moments of joy when we complete it. So what creeps in there that turns it into something negative? The answer, routine and monotony.

When I first went bouldering indoors I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to go back to it. The mind has a way of developing a routine however, in time it breaks down something really exciting into methodical steps. In this example the steps are as follows:

  1. plan out a time to go to the bouldering gym
  2. pack my bag for the gym
  3. figure out whether to walk or bike there
  4. think about what I will do after the gym
  5. consider what else I could do with my time if I didn’t go bouldering

All this… when I just want to go bouldering. So, now when I’m at home and packing my bag or even when I set out to walk to the gym my mind loops these thought steps through my head creating negativity and doubt etc. So, how do we overcome this?

Staying in the Moment

A bike commute can be painful when we start anticipating the headache of it or if I tell myself that it was a really “tough” commute at the end of the day.

Bike commuting is tough but sometimes it’s how we look at it.

We stay present, we don’t let the past or the future creep in, we enjoy the moment. Once we have decided to go it’s a matter of packing the bag and getting to the gym.

We need to enjoy the meditative aspect of packing the bag, of our breathing as we walk to the gym. Once we are at the gym everything will click and we’ll soon train our minds that getting to the gym is not a series of steps but an experience in itself that’s peaceful, beautiful and exciting every time.

Making Bike Commuting Easier

My bike commute into work today, which took a little under 2 hours, started out feeling terribly tedious at the 10th mile and I immediately stopped my mind from ‘thinking’.

I looked up and around, breathed in the fresh air, looked out over the water and noticed the sun on my arms and I suddenly felt so elated. I got the same feeling as when I completed this commute for the first time a few months back.

Making bike commuting easier starts with giving myself space so that I can enjoy the commute. So that I can watch the birds, listen to music, take a break when I need to, and feel refreshed and not exhausted.

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