I started this year imagining the changes necessary to become a leaner, faster, and more adventuresome cyclist. I adopted an intermittent fasting regime, improved my sleeping patterns and recovery methods, trained regularly and hard, and purchased a bespoke all road bike. You can read about these, and other changes in previous posts, but what I didn’t expect were other, more profound changes to the way I was living.
It began with my car. I gifted it to my daughter as a graduation present. I hadn’t really driven it for several years. For all intents and purposes, it was hers but now she pays the the operating costs. It was a symbolic step, but an important one.
I was at the cottage for three months this year. Instead of renting a car for the entire time, which I normally do, I rented one when I first arrived. I need one to travel to the cottage, a 2 hour drive from the airport, and to food shop, but most of the time is just sits. So, once I had stocked up, I returned the car, and only rented one again when family visited. The rest of the time I cycled, managing to pickup fresh fruit and vegetables every few days on my bike as needed.
I learned I didn’t need a car, even at the cottage. I cycled, walked, and kayaked more discovering new roads, and meeting people I wouldn’t have otherwise.
I also became more acutely aware of all of the plastic packaging in use today. When I’m at home, there is just as much, but it is easily disposed of. The city regularly picks up garbage, garden cuttings, paper, and plastic materials. At the cottage, I have to take it to the dump. And, on a bike, that is difficult to do. Instead, it piled up until I had a car again. This led me to explore bulk food sources, and fresh produce from the local farmers. But purchasing bulk items on the bike was not the easiest. I was limited in how much I could carry, and had to cycle 50 km each way to the nearest store. This had a profound effect upon me. Next year, I will source closer bulk sources, and grow more food 😉
And, while at the cottage, the weather was warm, and I needed very little clothing. Two cycling kits. Two pair of swim trunks, two t-shirts, and, a pair of PJ’s. When I returned home, I couldn’t get over all of the clothes I had in the closet, most of which no longer fit the leaner me. It was stuffed! So, I began a complete closet purge, only replacing articles needed to stay warm, and dry. Now, my closet is half empty, and it’s not large. I have all I need – 3 pairs of jeans, 3 pair of shorts, 4 short sleeve t-shirts, 2 long sleeve t-shirts, 1 buttoned shirt, 2 pairs of runners, a down jacket, a waterproof shell, half the socks I had before, and some underwear.
That’s all I need. Actually, more then I really need. (I won’t discuss my cycling kits. They are not minimal. Or, inexpensive 😂)
And, when I am at the cottage, I do not have TV, or the internet. And, I don’t miss them. I read a lot. A novel a week on average. My days start with a coffee and book, and end with the book in hand. When I returned home, I have TV and the internet but deliberately use them sparingly. I only watch the CBC Morning News, the occasional Netflix movie, and several cycling YouTube channels. Instead, I start and end my days with a good book.
By imagining changes to improve my cycling experiences, I changed more profound aspects of my life. I’m carless, cycling and walking everywhere. I eat a simpler, cleaner, more natural vegan diet. I have been vegetarian/vegan for a very long time but now I am even more particular. My clothes closet only contains what I need to stay warm, and dry. I’m no longer a clothes horse (except on my bike 😂). And, there is always a novel at my bedside.
Am I becoming a minimalist?
I believe global warming is real, and want to set a good example. I’m no longer a clothes horse. I don’t eat meat or dairy for both moral and economic reasons. I am fascinated with the “tiny house” movement, and those living off-the-grid. I don’t believe in monotheism. And, I’d rather be out on my bike exploring new roads and steeper climbs than doing anything else.
I wasn’t raised this way.
Which came first?
Or, the philosophical shift?
Yes. The bike.
When I first graduated from university, my doctor told me I needed to lose weight or be prepared to deal with poor health later in life. I borrow a friends 5-speed and began cycling. Since the, I have lost 50 pounds and have assembled quite a stable of steeds 😂
Cycling led to numerous changes, all simplifying life and improving my pleasure.