Return to the car marked by new perspective

Sunday, May 15, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:03 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2008

This may be the final entry of the Bicycle Diaries, but I don't think it's the end of my using my bike for my transportation needs.

The car will become part of my life again. As enjoyable as the Wal-Mart run on Tuesday was, at some point I will need to get more items than what a backpack can hold.

I will be using the bike to get myself around more often though. Going into this past week, I thought of using the bike in my daily life as more of a hassle.

There was all that preparation necessary before taking the bike out. You had to consider the proper attire for the weather and take care of all the small bike maintenance tasks. You had to plan out exactly which stops you would be making and what route you would take. At every stop you had to mess around with the bike lock.

Before this week, I used my bike for long recreational trail rides. When I was busy and didn't have time for recreation, it sat in my room collecting dust.

I now see the bike as a convenient way to get around town. All the extra preparation tasks really don't take that much more time or planning. Biking actually forces you to stay a little more organized and on top of things. Once you get in the habit of biking around town and making constant stops, everything becomes second-nature.

The health benefits of biking are widely-known. By commuting on the bike you get these benefits without really considering what you are doing as exercise. Using the bike to run a few errands easily covers the 30 minutes of daily exercise that we always hear we should be getting. And the eight glasses of water a day we should be drinking is easier to reach when you're riding around.

I drink way more soda than I should, and not enough water, but this week tipped the scales in favor of water.

Overall, I found that I was simply happier this past week. Even if I had a lot to do on a certain day, I didn't feel overwhelmed or stressed out.

Plus, riding a bike has economic advantages. Who hasn't dreaded hearing the estimate when they have to take their car in for repairs? And who dreads the cost of bike repairs? That's what I thought.

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