Saturday, March 3, 2012

All Dressed Up and No Place to Go

So I started a blog a few years after I moved to Colorado. It was just before I found a mountain bike. I was busy climbing mountains, running, road biking, hiking, riding my horse, working a couple of jobs, studying biochemistry and navigating through the sea of the first serious relationship after a short-lived mistake of a marriage. I had a road bike that I put zillions of miles on as an escape. I remember so many hours of pedaling on the network of roads that cut through Northern Colorado and the clarity it brought to my overloaded, sometimes stressed-out life.

One afternoon I came back from a long ride and wrote about how I wished I had all the time back that I wasted driving. With the subject of driving and cars taking up a great deal of my recent thoughts over the past two days, I decided to look back though a bunch of old posts and found it:

April 2...Wouldn't it be great to somehow get back all the time one spends driving? I have given this a lot of thought not only on my bike--but ironically--while driving. The monotonous stop and go and stop and go sends me into a sort of demotivated trance. By nature, I am a bit of an impatient person, so maybe this is why I find driving to be so annoying lately. In short, the very thought of fighting traffic on the way to the gym, store, school or work sometimes zaps all my energy and motivation to do what it was I had planned. So, when I finally locate that magic wand, I think that is one of the first things I will give back to myself--all the countless, mind-numbing hours spent in traffic...

A foreshadowing of where I am today? Hmmmm....

I grew up counting down the days until I was 16 and could get my license. It represented freedom to me. Yes, my parents restricted my driving privileges quite a bit at first, but I grew up in a time and place where the "coolest" thing on the highway was a tricked out 4WD pickup truck. Loud, black smoke- billowing, jacked up, big tires and the more mud the better. (It is probably safe to say that not much has changed, but that's another topic).

And so I always had a truck and the new shiny models always turned my head on the road. First, I had a big Dodge to pull my horses around, then a newer Dodge, then an F-150, then a newer F-150. Then I got tired of pouring money on gas, insurance and payments into the money toilet (right about the time I found a new, true freedom on a mountain bike) and downgraded seriously to a gas-sipping, older car that ran and was worth about 1/3 of what my bike was.

Being human (well, more accurately, American) I was a little embarrassed to pull up to the trailhead in a 1999 Mercury Cougar amongst all my friends and their Audis, Elements, VWs and nice trucks with super sweet rack systems.

Most of this video is ridiculously stupid, but the girl stuffing her bike into the car was me. Hilarious if you can relate. Not so if you can't....And I admit, driving somewhat of a clunker was a bit humbling and as I said before, somewhat embarrassing...

For all of about  two weeks....

Then I just quit caring or even noticing what others drove and what was shiny, new and fancy. Seriously. I used to be the girl infatuated with the newest truck on the market, but when my notion of real freedom was forever redefined by a set of knobby tires and a mountain trail, I just simply stopped giving a shit. All I cared  about was how little gas I had to use to get to the next trailhead.....

So when my car broke down in the middle of nowhere on New Years Day, I said a few choice words to it, wished I had a match and some kerosene as I walked away...(.Ok, I am just joking....well, kind of)...and sold it the next day.

And have not had the desire to replace it....yet.

I have done a ton of (sometimes very tough) adapting. I can no longer make a snap decision and jump in the car to run to the store. I find myself becoming the master of planning and arranging. I borrow a car from my very generous roommate or find a ride when the situation dictates a need for a car. I throw my  gas money in and give up my independence of going wherever I want to ride or hike whatever I want. For someone like me, that is the really difficult part of not having a car.

But I can honestly tell you I don't know the price of a gallon of gas, have not scraped a frozen windshield or dropped a dime towards car insurance for a while. I also love to not drive around in a trance of stop and go and stop and go. I love the extra effort I feel in my legs when I am carrying my groceries on my back up the hill to my house. I do not miss the white noise of the radio that I constantly flipped through to find a song I hadn't already heard six times that day. I am glad there is one less car spitting exhaust into the air.....and I do love to see the smile of disbelief and the double-take when I roll up on the Pugsley and lock it to the nearest tree.

The benefits of not having a car are numerous both physically and mentally and each of you who do or have commuted without using a car have your own list I am sure.Somedays, I feel that I am adapting well and could go carless for a long time.

Other days, (specifically yesterday) when I was so stoked, completely packed and ready to head out with my bike and my dog and travel plans completely fell through, I had absolutely zero other options to choose from on such short notice. And I was as bummed as Wheels when she realized we were going nowhere:

Now, I am beginning to forsee a "car-light" existence in my future. I love having all the time back I wished for in my old blog and a lifestyle that involves carpooling and biking everywhere. It is good for me and I genuinely cherish the simplicity of it.

But I will eventually find a good balance and buy something that will get me reliably from Adventure A to Adventure B to avoid being "all dressed up and nowhere to go" again.

I am not thrilled at the idea of car ownership right now, but it sure sucks that I  am blogging on a Saturday. One of which I should have not even had my laptop on....


  1. I still remember that day in my early 20's when I got my drivers license back after a year and half without it. It was a rediscovered freedom, like that of turning 16 again. I enjoyed the hell out of not having a car but it is awefully nice to have certain abilities that this necessary evil can bring.

    Oh, and give Wheels a pedicure- she's almost as bad as Zoe!

  2. blogging is good, even on Saturday. It's good to share thoughts, experiences, and basically whatever.