They said I was crazy. After the fact.
My husband and I had driven separate cars to church that morning, and driven one car home. I thought it would boost my weight loss plan and save the earth, if I rode my bike to the church that afternoon for choir practice. 5 miles. No big deal.
As I wheeled through my suburban neighborhood, I planned on taking the same route I drive to church. I started on the road, just like a car. Technically, a bicycle is supposed to follow all the rules of the road a car does. Logistically, most drivers of motor vehicles do not know this and do not respect a cyclist's right to be on the road. Healthwise, safety dictated a sidewalk route whenever available.
When I decided a little air in my tires might make the ride more comfortable and expedient, I took a short cut through a side street rather than go to a complicated interesection to get to the gas station. I felt completely safe as I took the alley behind the gas station to the main road.
However, at this point, for the second half of my journey, there were no sidewalks. There were no shoulders. It was a busy, 2-lane road, where a 45 mph speed limit was a mere suggestion. I tried to stay as far to the right as I could, but at least one motorist honked, and several came close enough I could have touched them if I reached out. When I reached the light, a car decided to come up beside me rather than give me space.
I arrived safely, but I learned my lesson. The next trip I made, I didn't follow all the rules. I didn't always cross at intersections or stay on the correct side of the road. I did what was safe, what made sense for me.
The lesson here is not to play it safe in life, but to make your own path. Question whether you're going a certain direction because it matches your personality and interests, or if it's just the way you've always gone. Maybe it's the way everyone else goes, or the path of least resistance. Take a moment to stop and think about where you want to go and if the road you're on is going to get you there. Don't be afraid to take a less traveled back road or alley.
Which way will you go today?