It is when we are in transition that we are most completely alive. - William Bridges
In equestrian sport there is something called a transition. It means that change from one gait to another. It probably sounds easy, to simply speed up from a walk to a trot or slow down from a canter to a trot. Right. It’s easy until you do it. Learning smooth and collected transitions is challenging for rider and horse. At first they are clumsy, disorganized, and ugly to watch. But with practice, smooth transitions become second nature. It’s all about practice, persistence, and attention to those more experienced (and sometimes the more experienced one is your horse!).
Yesterday, March 1st, 2022, I woke up and realized I had cycle commuted through an entire winter. When I first started my job at Orchard Court, I decided I was going to “walk my talk” quite literally about active transportation. I started walking to work. This did not happen easily or overnight. It was a transition, from driving my car to walking. I bought shoes and a rain jacket specifically for my walk commute. Then I didn’t use them - I kept driving. I was used to driving, and my morning routine revolved around it. One morning, a morning of torrential rain and chilly March wind, I pondered the money I had spent on gear for a walk commute, put it on and marched through Kentville to my workplace. Dammit. I did it!
I walked to work every day right up until last summer, when I decided I’d ride my bicycle to work on fine days. This was another transition. The clumsy parts included not having any pants with tight ankles and ripping my good scrub pants on the front chain ring. More than once. Forgetting my lunch as I rushed to get my helmet and gloves and cycling jacket on. Arriving at work to discover my work shoes were in my other bag, the one I used when walking . . . .
When serious winter weather set in, I put my good gravel bike inside on the trainer. But I still wanted to cycle to work. It was faster and, let’s face it, a lot more fun than walking. I live on a hill and just about every time I swing onto the saddle and start down, it’s a thrill. So - transition: I bought full fenders for my old Giant Boulder (which may be familiar to some of you as the bike I bought for my daughter in 2006 and then used for delivering the Cape Breton Post from 2012-2015 in Westmount). I put my work shoes in the pannier. I bought narrow legged scrub pants that fit under my MEC commuter pants.
I figured I’d cycle on fine days. Right. I’ve cycled every day. I’ve cycled in every storm we’ve had this past winter except one. I’ve had to cycle on the sidewalk to avoid sharing a treacherously slippery street with nervous motorists, push my bike up my steep road, and brace myself against nauseatingly frigid windchills. But I did it. My co-workers regard me with a mixture of respect and suspicion. And you should see there faces when I start taking my [commuter] pants off during shift report!
I’m looking forward to another transition: the one from winter to spring! I know it’s been quite a while since I wrote anything. I’ve been through some other transitions in the past several months, some pretty clumsy and ugly to watch. But persist: balance and collection will return. Ride safely.