Passports and Mileage

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Today was a good day. I had two separate, unrelated thoughts. Just two

I need to renew my passport. I am taking “Bob and Louis” on a road trip next month, and will passing into the United States. The passport office is in the heart of the business district downtown. I had 3 travel options this morning: public transit, drive the SUV, or cycle.

I live on the Canada Line, a subway system into the heart of the city. It is fast, clean, and reliable. It costs $2.50 each way, but I would be packed into one of the congested cars like a sardine in a can without fresh air. And afterward, I would still have a 2 km walk to the office.

I could drive. It’s convenient but parking is a problem. Not only is it difficult to find in the area, but expensive – $10-$20 for the hour I would be there and then another $20 for the balance of the day at the office.

Or, I could cycle. Cycling is relatively fast, convenient, inexpensive, healthy, and has a minimal carbon foot print.

Naturally, I cycled.

What struck me, during this final day of 30 days of cycling, was how much easier, and more enjoyable the trip was. It took me 20 minutes door to door, faster than either public transit or driving. I literally rolled up to the front door, locked my bike, and walk in to have my renewal application processed, came back out, unlocked my bike, and headed the short distance to the office, picking up a coffee along the way.

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I was the only cyclist in the passport office. The only “client” wearing cycling shoes, leg warmers, and a waterproof cycling jacket. The only “client” carrying a pannier. I must have stood out. At one time, I would have felt self conscious. Not anymore. I like the way I look. I like that I am not paying for parking. And, I like that I feel relaxed and unhurried.

More and more I see bikes locked to bike racks in front of office buildings, retail stores, restaurants, and cafes. All types of bikes – commuters, fixes, road bikes, utility bikes … It doesn’t matter. Clearly, more people are cycling in the city, even at this time of year.

So, on this the last day of cycling every day in April, I used my bike to renew my password, go out for lunch, train for 2 hours in Stanley Park, and then pick up a 1/2 pound of ground coffee before heading home.

I put on 50+ kilometres today. And that brings me to mileage, my other thought today. Fit Recovery – Stay Clean Get Fit had an interesting post today regarding average cycling speed. In it, he talks about all the variables that affect average speed on a ride. Things like hills, traffic, and wind. I commented that he was right on, and that in my part of the world, I content daily with mountains, hills and a prevailing westerly wind off the Pacific Ocean. Average speed means very little. Every ride, even on the same route, is different.

This got me thinking. It doesn’t take much.

I see a lot of cyclists fastidiously accumulating their mileage. See them setting monthly and yearly mileage goals. I’ve come to realize that not all miles are equal. If you are cycling for fitness, how you ride, is more important than how far you ride. Add a few hills, some sharp turns, a sprint, and a fast descent to your route and you will become a better conditioned, more skilled cyclist, even if you travel shorter distances. Think quality, not quantity.

That’s what I thought about today. 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Passports and Mileage

  1. It’s a mindset on riding the bike automatically. Most people, including those that cycle, only think of the bike as a recreational “toy” instead of a normal transportation vehicle. It’s sad really. Good post!

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