Exercising My Demons

garaged bikes 0220
Overlooking bikes in favor of the car. These haven’t moved in months.

I don’t know that you can call it an epiphany when it’s been months in the making, and the realization spread over hours, but I had at least a long moment yesterday when the obvious finally smacked me in the face: I need to make some changes.

As I have done every day for several weeks now, I headed home for lunch, in my car, and noticed the bike path is plenty clear for riding bikes. And as I have done every day this year, when I finished with lunch, I got behind the wheel of my car without a second thought. Well, yesterday I had a tiny thought: it wouldn’t be that big a deal to go back inside and put on my bike-riding pants (safety yellow, with reflecting stripes). But my feet kept moving forward, right into my car, even as I was contemplating this. And then I drove to work, same as every day.

Where I suddenly realized just exactly what a dearth of exercise I have let myself in for, and that perhaps this dearth is impacting my mental health as much as my physical health.

In the Before Time, Oz and I walked to work four days out of five, which took 25 minutes and allowed me to catch up on my magazines because I would read while walking. And although it always made for a long lunch hour, we walked home for midday food. Then I, in almost any weather or temperature, would get on my bike to go back to work, coming home the same way in the evening. The bike ride was probably a 10-minute proposition each way.

So if we do math, the way I love to, commuting turned out to be five hours of exercise each work week, plus our weekend walks and whatever bike riding Lynn and I would do to get where we might be going.

In the Now, either because I apportion my mornings inappropriately or because I’m doing more than there is time for, Oz and I conduct a short stroll down our street that if we’re being extremely charitable takes 15 minutes but is probably more like 10. We do park two blocks away from work, so let’s go ahead and award ourselves 15 minutes total for the morning constitutional and the time to get back to the car at lunch.

That works out to 1.25 hours of exercise per week, or one-quarter of my previous total. And if we multiply that by seven months . . . well, that’s a lot of lost hours that are not helping my physical being and probably my mental as well.

So that’s the realization that took me all the way until yesterday to get to, but now the question staring me in the face is: What are you going to do about it? In the 18 or so hours since I started asking that, I haven’t come up with many answers.

I thought I’d come up a solution, one I’d already proposed to myself and Carol. I was going to park my car at her house, with her permission, and walk from there to work and back at lunch with Oz. Or last night I decided I could park at Lake School, site of Tia’s office (I suppose I could park at Tia’s house, once it becomes hers in a couple of weeks) — anyway, there are plenty of places to park.

Doing this will probably get me to work at the same time as I have been, which is still late but what everyone has come to expect of me. The real problem comes at lunch, which already lasts well over an hour. It seems to take about 15 minutes to walk Oz, who needs to inspect everything, to the car and then drive the two and a half miles home. So if we add another 15-minute walk to Carol’s/Tia’s/wherever, I’ve spent half of my hour just getting home.

And then if I ride my bike in, which there’s no reason in the world I can’t be doing that, that trip I’ve timed as variously as 15 minutes to 25, depending on wind and traffic, neither of which needed to be considerations in my previous commute, without accounting for my slowness in eating.

So I can’t figure out how to make that work. The next obvious solution becomes to start earlier and take Oz on a longer morning walk around the neighborhood. There’s plenty to see, but maybe I could forego that and read my magazines while walking anyway. But something has to give in my morning routine, or I end up taking as much time out of my work day as the world’s longest lunch commute would.

I also realize I’m not really covering new ground, in my thought process or this blog (or in my exercise habits), but it honestly took until yesterday for me to realize what an unhealthy life change this has been. Seven months in, and it has become way too easy for me to decide in an instant not to ride my bike to work any afternoon.

So, back on the bike in the afternoon, even if it’s not what I want to do, which was never a problem in the Before Time, but I have yet to actually enjoy any of my rides into or out of town from the new location. Even the day when I thought, “Wow, I’m really flying,” only to realize the wind was pushing me right along. In the old days there wasn’t the roar of highway traffic, a narrow stretch without shoulders, or the awful Walmart/True Value/Community Banks Interchange, so I didn’t really feel like I was “contending” with anything the way most of my current commute, until I reach the relative safety of Iowa Street, leaves me.

The other day I came up with a solution in search of a problem, but so far my commute remains a problem in search of a solution. The difference now is that I have finally — took me long enough — realized how urgent it becomes that a solution be found. Wish me luck.

2 thoughts on “Exercising My Demons

  1. Suggestion: rather than fight traffic, take a different route to and from work. For example – leave your house, take the path to the first road toward the Palisades (by the foam house) to Vulcan. Head south on Vulcan and then I nto the neighborhoods. At some point turn east toward your office. Or, once on Vulcan, take your old bike route. Gets you out of traffic, the horrific intersection, and makes your ride slightly longer – more exercise! Good for your physical and mental health!

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