emergency weblog; or: epersonae; or: elaine nelson

in which I write about stuff

What if I’d been biking earlier?

Considering counterfactuals.

Categories: bicycling, General

When I was a teenager, in college, and a young adult fresh out of school, I didn’t know how to drive. Oddly enough, that’s not the thing I wish I’d learned earlier in my life. Between the bus, walking, and friends, I got around pretty well, and I have a life-long comfort with getting around without a car.


I really wish I’d learned how to ride a bike before age 30! (Edit: technically, I learned before 30…about 3 months before!) So many places I could’ve gotten to so much more quickly, for one thing. It’s an interesting hypothetical question to wonder what would’ve happened to my weight if I’d been able to bike to UWPC, at least some of the year, when we lived in East Tacoma. (Altho that would have been a sketchy ‘hood to bike through.) And it would’ve been fun to have a bike handy when we lived in Lakewood. Not that biking to work would have been that big a deal, but it would have been nice to bike from work through Fort Steilacoom Park and out to the grocery store.

I also wonder if a lot of late night walks would have been late night bike rides, and if that would have been a better thing. Yes, I was probably insane in my younger years; I took a lot of really long walks quite late a night, particularly during my time in Tacoma. But it was how kept what I had of my sanity back in the day: thinking by walking, plus the time alone that I often needed. What would those times have been like if I’d had the extra speed, range, and exercise intensity of a bike?

It also seems entirely possible to me that riding a bike earlier in my life would have made it easier for me to finally learn how to drive. These last 5+ years I’ve increased my sense of balance, my ability to judge traffic, and my understanding of gear ratios. 🙂 Not that I’m all that as it is by any means! Still, I can imagine what it would have meant to have gotten all that earlier.

All that said, I try not to indulge in that sort of wishful thinking too often. It happened when it happened, and that turned out to be a good moment in my life to have begun bicycling. The Townie had just come out, I was living somewhere with good places to bike, C was there to encourage me. As I said on the day I got it, “suffice it to say that I am very happy I finally got a bike, and oddly enough, happy I waited until C discovered this one.”

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2 Responses to “What if I’d been biking earlier?”

  1. Virginia says:

    (A comment for you)

    I bought a bike a couple of years ago, too. I’ve been riding all my life, but biking at my current age might be a bit reckless. I discovered quickly, after falling on the ground in the most ungraceful way, that one should not bike in shoes with shoestrings.

    You’ve been forewarned.

  2. Elaine says:

    Funny enough, my current biking shoes (quasi-patent-leather sneakers) have laces, and I do have to be very careful making sure they’re secure!