Health & Well-Being

A Collection of Thoughts from the Saddle

A Collection of Thoughts from the Saddle

Drivers hate pedestrians. Drivers hate cyclists. Drivers hate other drivers.

For all those drivers who claim to \”hate cyclists\” (a.k.a. the old me before I discovered the glorious benefits of riding), try to calculate the amount of time a couple cyclists on the road lengthened your commute versus the dozens of drivers who does stupid things on the road. Why don\’t you hate on someone your own size? Every person on a bicycle means one less car on the road or one less person whose armpit you aren\’t all up and about in a non-air-conditioned bus on a hot summer day. If you are going to let a mere cyclist ruin your day, you better learn to not let little things get to you because we aren\’t going anywhere! Positive thinking, people.

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In June, I drove for the first time in 7 months and my god, I think I was kind of an angry-wreck. Driving just brings out the worst in me. A friend from out-of-town, received the honor of experiencing my rage and he urged me to reflect on this experience and use it as a reminder on why I ride my bike. Since then, every time I drive and the fury begins to creep up, I squash it back down by reminding myself to be grateful that I would be on my bike the other 90% of the time. If I was stuck in a little metal box commuting every day, I would go insane! No wonder there are so many problems in the world!

My life is perfect thinking that the bike is the answer to everything, so leave me alone in my little bubble.

And just for the record, I did take my friend on a short bike ride that week but of course, my \”short\” rides are normally \”ridiculously long\” for normal people. Being the selfish person that I am, I finally turned around and realized my friend was practically dying and we still had to ride back… I guess \”real men\” just don\’t like to complain. Harhar.

Like I previously mentioned, I realize that many have a legit reason on why they can\’t ride their bike to work but for those who can and haven\’t done so, it will be the best decision you will ever make in your life. It maybe hard to start but once you do, you will realize how much of your life you are wasting away sitting in a car and you will never want to go back.

There was a day I was too tired and hung over to bike to work so I took public transit. As I was about to go home, I found out my train going downtown was out. The ONE day I decide not to ride. Just. My. Luck. Never again I told myself. I haven\’t backed out on my word yet.

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The upgrades to the Stanley Park Causeway started this week to the dismay of angry tax-payers who don\’t look at the bigger picture, while cyclists and pedestrians like me rejoice! Two years ago when 61-year-old cyclist, Antonina Skoczylas fell off the causeway and got hit by a bus, the city was finally forced to take action on improving the infrastructure of that 2km stretch connecting downtown to North Vancouver. I\’ve always known the sidewalk was too narrow to be shared by both pedestrians and cyclists and after her accident, there was never a time I\’d be riding the causeway not thinking about her accident. In fact, I avoid it as much as I can and always take the long way around in Stanley Park but many commuters don\’t share my enthusiasm for fitness and are just trying to get over the bridge and home to North Vancouver. And yes, many cyclists do use the causeway and some have no choice.

We are not joking when we say we have to \”risk our lives\” riding over this causeway… a major traffic corridor, packed with cars, trucks and buses zooming by at high speeds. There were too many close-calls for comfort— and the countless times when I would anxiously slow to a crawl by a pedestrian walking in the middle of the the sidewalk (not to the right), who can\’t see or hear me coming from behind because they have headphones on, not knowing if their sudden movements will push me off the sidewalk and into traffic where I would share the same fate as Antonina. I\’m sure pedestrians wonder if they will get hit by speedy cyclists descending and ascending that rolling sidewalk all the time. Theses upgrades are definitely much-needed. People complain now but once it\’s done, it will be forgotten anyway and everyone will be safer.

When people feel safe, they will take more risks. This shouldn\’t be about instant gratification. Every little infrastructure upgrade in the city will add up and may result in getting more people off the road— relieving traffic congestion. What about our future?

\"Pacific

As a driver, you don\’t notice how many people in the city actually cycle.

When you drive rapidly through city blocks, of course you don\’t notice and that\’s why you always hear, \”… but NO ONE ever uses the bike lanes! The bike lanes are always empty!\”

When you are actually riding in the bike lanes, you know differently.

Obviously we are more aware on our bikes— I mean we are forced to be (or risk our lives) and we can\’t be looking down at our cellphones like most pedestrians. Yes, we notice that many people actually use the bike lanes!! Much more than people claim, considering the ratios of drivers vs. pedestrians vs. cyclists.

As a cyclist, I notice more and more people are cycle commuting every day. When the sun is out, the greenways in Vancouver are always PACKED. The traffic light pelotons are brightly adorned and waiting patiently to get on their way. Even when it\’s raining, there are still countless brave souls out there conquering the roads. It makes me really happy and proud that Vancouver is slowly becoming more bike friendly …and the fact that more people are realizing it.

There are hardly any streets that I feel uncomfortable riding in. I tend to avoid certain routes if I could due to past accidents or extremely close calls, which can be traumatic, but not traumatic enough to blind me from all the benefits of cycling. Experience is a personal matter but I\’m confident enough to ride the busiest of streets, although I try to stick to quieter roads since there is already so much enmity towards us. Little ol\’ me thinks it\’s better to stay out of the way of the big cars than to spawn more lousy feelings. The city is filled with marked bike routes through beautiful neighborhoods so there is no reason to ride on the busy arteries with no bike lanes or shoulders.

I\’ve always admitted I hate other cyclists who gives the rest of us a bad name. Like groups of cyclists who takes up entire lanes for no reason and not letting cars pass. Cyclists who run red lights. Small-minded people who group \”regular commuters\” and \”spandex-clad cyclists\” against each other. Everyone needs to realize that cycling is a privilege and if we want to get respect, we need to show respect.

All in all, Vancouver already has a very good cycling infrastructure and it\’s unfortunate we lack the education to make it work efficiently. But we sure do have a bright future.

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    Home Sweet Home

    Home Sweet Home

    You know that feeling when you enter your city\’s limits after a long, long ride or when you see your city lights ablaze from the airplane window?

    When you finally re-enter \”civilization\” after a long ride in the further suburbs, up and down windy mountain roads and through solitary rural farm lanes?

    It is such a great adventure to ride to far away place or travel to the other side of the world, but it\’s always remarkably comforting to be back home. All the fatigue from your journey will suddenly melt away, replaced by a new sensation of lightness and serenity.

    Two of the greatest gifts we can give our children are roots and wings.

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      Oh, This Beautiful Life

      Oh, This Beautiful Life

      It takes ages to craft certain blog entries because I admit, I am self-conscious about what I publish since I don\’t like writing about my personal life. My blogs use to be very personal but over the years, there were aspects of my life and thoughts I was hesitant to record because many people take things the wrong way and make judgments. I\’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and realized: why do I need to be ashamed of my good life and worry about what other people think?

      Being an introvert, I\’ve never been good with words so I\’ve always turned to creative expression (writing and art). I\’ve found myself drifting away from people in the past because we never understood each other due to difference in personalities and the way our minds interprets events. There is no right and wrong… we all see the world differently as a results of our own experiences. But this is my blog and I\’ve always been obsessed with recording history, life events, experiences and thoughts so maintaining blogs for 17 years and knowing my life has been forever immortalized makes me grateful. I love memories.

      Like most bloggers, I don\’t publish the majority of my entries because I either don\’t finish or they aren\’t perfect enough… but I\’m on a campaign to eliminate the need for perfection and to \”just do it.\” Who cares if it\’s not perfect? When we are constantly striving for perfection, nothing gets done.

      In reality, there really is no such thing as perfection because once you reach that point, you will ALWAYS strive for more and if you don\’t, you are just settling. You should never settle.

      You should always be constructing your own happiness by living in the moment, doing things you love with a huge dose of gratitude and dealing with things as they happen— living and relishing in the flow of life.

      Although I\’m nowhere near perfect, I am forever grateful for past lessons and continuous growth, and the company I am surrounded by, whom I get to grow older and wiser with. I am proud of all that I\’ve achieved to get to where I am today, and to be able to revel in the joy and freedom I\’m experiencing.

      \"If

      I\’ve been MIA all summer because I\’ve been traveling as much as I can and when I\’m home, I\’m frantically trying to squeeze everything else in: riding my bike, seeing friends, work and other adult responsibilities I need to attend to (bills, chores, bills, chores). There just isn\’t enough hours in a day and I\’ve gotten zero down time but life is too short to not do everything you want and I\’m in a very fortunate position in my life right now to have all this freedom. It would be such a waste to not take advantage of it.

      What is life if you can\’t live?

      I went through a phase last month where I was so exhausted mentally and physically and haven\’t been wanting to do ANYTHING when I was home (let\’s face it… you don\’t really sleep while on vacation), even getting up early to ride my bike. Gasp. I rarely have problems getting up to workout. So I\’ve been letting myself sleep in, forgoing my long morning rides for a regular commute straight to work. I discovered that once I\’m out in the sun on two wheels, all those lethargic thoughts dissipate because BIKE = INSTANT HAPPINESS. Seriously. It\’s a proven equation. Since I haven\’t been riding much due to traveling, I realized I\’m literally telling myself how wonderful and grateful I am to be out on my bike on every single one of my rides. The feeling is THAT incredible.

      The downside to busyness is my health has definitely taken a toll. I started seeing an amazing naturopath, gotten health tests done, have been officially diagnosed with anemia and GI issues due to the lack of sleep, stress and probably too much caffeine but I\’ve never been more in tuned with my health and body. These issues have been a blessing in disguise. Did I mention that I finally admitted I am lactose-intolerant? I was denial for a while, just like my puppy-allergies, but I\’m always armed with lactase enzymes. NOT giving up cheese, cake and chocolate.

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      Because of my health, I have been lowering the intensity of my bike rides and exercising less to keep those cortisol levels under control. The past year, I\’ve only been lifting 1-2x/week and have lost a TON of strength so I\’m trying to muster up the discipline for more weight-lifting and less cycling… but I admit it\’s hard when I would rather be out and about on my bike. The one motivation for me to shake up my routine a bit is that my butt is getting a little too flat for my liking with this cardio-overload! Harharhar.

      Life is so beautiful and precious… be grateful for every moment of it. I wouldn\’t change a thing of mine except I wish there were more hours in a day to do more crazy stuff!

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