If I stop biking for more than 2 days, I can feel it. I don’t feel right. After more than a few days without exercise, the full brunt of dpression starts to weigh on me. There’s probably a rebound effect involved because I end up with the scary sort of depression that psychologists call Major or Clinical depression, not just a depressed mood.
Now, my wife has been told by her doctor that she’s not allowed to drive because she twisted her ankle a week or so ago. And I really hate it when people are not supposed to drive for one reason or another (a BAC above the legal limit, poor vision, etc) drive.. plus it physically hurts for her to drive, so even if she wanted to drive, she probably couldn’t. So I’ve been working from home and stuff and between that and a bit of traveling-planned-before-she-twisted-her-ankle, I went for a few days without biking and mostly without exercise.
So last Monday, I worked from home and was fighting the worst possible soul-crushing depression I’ve felt in a long long time. And I knew that on previous days while working from home, I’d put off going on a bike ride because I wasn’t getting work done. And I told myself that I wasn’t going to get anything done if I didn’t do something about the bike riding, so I finally just went on a ride, even though I still had a lot on my plate for the day. It’s actually pretty hard to deliberately fit exercise into a normal workday compared to how easy it is to fit it in when it’s how you get to work.
Having to drive her places, it kind of annoys me about this society that all of us Americans have constructed. I do not think a person who has lost their driving skills because of old age or poor eyesight or other such problems should be driving and will not condone it. But I understand how it happens. In America, they might as well hand you a suicide pill when they take back your driver’s license card.
To me, this is not a just society. Because it’s not like a person woke up one morning and said “Hey, I’d like to get old and decrepit! That sounds like SO MUCH FUN!” and, while there are services out there to transport the non-drivers, I also understand that these services are not going to compare to the rapid rewards of driving in our intentionally car-centric society. Especially if your answer is “Hey, take this bus system that is not only slower than driving, it’s slower than biking and sometimes slower than walking and doesn’t even get you to everywhere you’d want to go.” Part of why cycling works so well is because it lets me bypass the crappy transportation system that results when you run buses in an area that has bus service but not enough density to make them work smoothly.
I bike to work today and you have no idea how much better I feel. I feel like me again. Perhaps this is the new me that showed up in the past few years, but it’s the only me I really like most of the time.
But living my bike-centric lifestyle no longer seems so much like a choice I have in front of me but a basic requirement for me to be able to live a life worth living.
One of the guys in my team at work, who is also a hardcore cyclist, broke his ribs in a cycling accident last winter. Being injured in such a way that I can’t bike for an extended period of time is particularly scary for me these days.
Anyway, the doctor says that she’s not allowed to drive until next week but she has to go back to work and go to physical therapy appointments. I love my wife very much. I love her so much that I’ll actually drive a car for her and risk mental illness. Three days. I can do this.