11 Photos, Two Trails, One Bike

It’s hard work to make new habits, isn’t it?

Sometimes you really have to carve them out of the solid mass that is an already-full day.

Even the habits that you know you’ll enjoy.

Or the habits you used to enjoy that have been forgotten or pushed aside for a while.

It’s just life most of the time. Nothing intentional, just life.

But then you get a glimpse of how that new habit or once-loved but forgotten habit could fit into your life, and you plow ahead at the first hint of having enough energy, or determination. Even if there never seems to be enough time. Or space. Or margin.

You just do it, and let the chips fall where they may.

And often find it’s not so hard, there was some pliability to the solid mass of your days, time is not as unavailable as it seems, and there was at least a tiny sliver of margin.

Most of all you find this hidden source of energy and determination. And it becomes contagious. It spreads. Other areas of your life are caught up in the wake of this one glimpse of a positive habit.

There will come days when the habit falls to the wayside again, but this time is not forgotten. And instead of guilt you feel another surge of determination. To not let the habit go again. To know it was hard work even just to try that once to fit it into your life. And to remember the feeling it brought when you saw it in your life. Or saw it again in your life.

So it is with me and bicycling. I honestly just love it. I always have.

I can remember being a young girl and exploring every inch of my neighbourhood. My bike meant freedom. It went where cars could not. It took me to hidden gems of places off the beaten path. It took me to friend’s houses and piano lessons and church and school. It took me on roads and trails and waterfront paths, and through marshes and city streets, and even across entire towns. I remember clearly how I loved the speed of a bike going down a big hill, sometimes I would take my hands off the handlebars, and always I’d feel the rush of wind across my face and through my hair. Freedom.

I’d forgotten about the bike for years. Forgotten how much I loved it. I had so many other avenues for freedom – travelling on planes and trains, university, new friends, my own car, new jobs – I was experiencing all kinds of things in my days. Then marriage and children, and a real slowing down in the pace of life while raising little ones. Then a great speeding up as the boys grew and became busy experiencing their own avenues for freedom. And I remembered the feeling, and I remembered my bike.

I’d ridden the bike with the boys towing behind in a bike trailer, I’d walked beside boys with training wheels and taught them bike safety. I’d taken the training wheels off and watched as they found their balance on our long paved driveway. I’d held the bike seat and ran with them as they pedalled. I’d let go only when they said it was OK. And they found their own freedom on the bike. They were now the ones biking to friend’s houses, exploring the city without parents, finding the hidden gems of places off the beaten path.

And I remembered that old habit of getting on my bike and seeing where the wheels took me. So I tried it. On my own. As soon as I mustered the energy and determination to try. No plan, no goal, just get on the bike and “push the pedals” as my friend Anne says πŸ™‚ It… was… glorious πŸ™‚

And I remembered more… yes… I always used to dream about biking across Canada one day. Now the boys were getting older I realized that day might actually be sooner rather than later. It’s most likely still a few years out, but it’s getting closer, and I’m getting older πŸ˜‰ So I started to set small goals. Bike for half an hour. Bike to this point. See how I feel.

And others joined me sometimes, and it was good to share the habit, the experiences it brought, and the connectedness of enjoying some of the same things in life.

So here I am, in this new place, trying to get back to “normal”, simple, and positive. Knowing familiar will come πŸ™‚

Last week I set out on my first bike ride here. I wanted to see if there were hidden trails to get to Elijah’s new school. He’s been talking about biking there. I knew the general direction, I brought my phone for Google maps help, and off I went. Through the woods, getting turned around, down many streets, getting lost a little more, but eventually making it to the school, having eliminated many possible paths along the way. But there is a way through the woods, and there is a way along the streets, and both have their positives and negatives. I’m excited to show them to Elijah soon.

Here’s some photos I took this morning on my 2nd venture out to the school… this time I timed it – not too long at all! And worth the ride!

Let’s play Where’s AnnaΒ for the last photo… you can spot me in the picture somewhere….

I also set out last week to a place I wanted to visit since moving here – The Arboretum. And oh my, it was worth the bike ride to get there, and then some. Even though I had to bike about 20 minutes on city streets, they are all so laid out with proper bike paths here (what a treat!) and no potholes (sorry Sudburians, but I’m in bicycle heaven here! Sidenote – two of Sudbury’s main roads are on the top 10 WORST roads in Ontario, so… ya… hard on the cyclists πŸ˜‰ ).

Here’s a few shots from the excursion to the Arboretum…

Even thought it’s hard to set out on the bike some days, it is getting easier to make this habit a constant in my life. I’m never sorry I went once the ride is over. I am never disappointed – there is always so much beauty, so much to see, even on the city streets.

There is always something good waiting down the road, or the path πŸ™‚

Maybe one day I’ll actually make it across Canada, but for now I’ll enjoy what’s right in front of me, and I’m excited about discovering the hidden gems scattered around my new city.

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