Oh the joys of riding a bike…! You can sleep through your alarm and get to class in four minutes, bask in the illusion of exercise and become the Stanford brochure student. But with bumps, roundabouts, cars, tourists and a myriad of other bikers at every turn, this mode of transportation can also become nerve-wracking.
I’m a decent biker by the Farm’s standards. I signal before I turn, use a light when it gets dark and am generally aware of my surroundings. Sometimes, I even get confident enough to take one hand off the handlebars (though I am still in awe of the student I saw this morning, navigating a turn and an uphill hands-free while munching on a muffin). In the last week, however, I’ve had a nearly head-on collision, been rammed into by a car and face-planted in greenery. Not bad, as someone for whom a thrill usually consists of submitting an assignment a minute before the deadline.
When it started raining at the end of last week, I gave up. The mere thought of screeching brakes, slippery paths and wet, foggy glasses was more than enough to make me resolutely leave breakfast 20 minutes earlier than usual, get a raincoat, an umbrella and trudge out on foot.
At first, admittedly, I was grumpy. My snail-like speed (or what felt like it, compared to zooming on a bike) made me regret my decision. Why was I not warm inside of my dorm, enjoying a few minutes more of grogginess before a packed day? My feet were wet, my hands were cold and I wasn’t even going to get to class early.
It was a failed experiment that I was ready to conclude with renewed gratitude for my bike until I realized that leaving without a bike meant I had to walk all day. And so I did. It felt painfully inefficient at first: Why forego 10 minutes of procrastination and five minutes of calm biking for 15 minutes of hurried walking? Yet as the day went on, I enjoyed it more and more. Walking meant I could pick kumquats, have time to think (without constantly being on the lookout for oblivious tourists or daredevil squirrels) and take a breather from the day’s frantic pace.
I wouldn’t do it all the time — getting to class in four minutes and to Trader Joe’s in 12 is still undeniably practical — but sometimes it feels good. Invest in a pair of rain boots, an umbrella and some time to walk if you haven’t already. It’s worth it.
Contact Axelle Marcantetti at axellem ‘at’ stanford.edu.