Bicycle Diaries: Life Lessons from Two Wheels

If you pay close attention, biking can teach you lots about life. I use my two wheels to go to business meetings, grocery shopping, taking my kid to school, (he on his and me on mine.) I ride it for fitness and just plain fun. Along with my toothbrush, camera and laptop, my bike comes with me on most of my travels too. On some days, the insights have been so profound that I've felt like Che Guevarra on my two wheels. And while I am not about to start socialist revolutions, the internal shifts that I've experienced toiling around on two wheels have been personally revolutionary. These lessons have been transformative and I've been able to apply to love and life:

When you have momentum it's no time to slow down, take advantage of it and keep it going:

I was on a gorgeous but torturous trail in Cape Cod and the hills became more and more challenging. Just as I thought that I could not go on, I'd reach the top then, the blessed downhill slopes came. My natural instinct was to take a break and stop pedaling. Yet I learned that if I did the opposite and kept pedaling, the next hill that came was easier to climb. And so it is with life's challenges.

When things are going smooth -- a diet that worked and helped  shed ten pounds, a relationship that brings joy, a job that is fulfilling -- we want to chill and cease working. This is where complacency and taking stuff for granted can set in. We get comfy. We go back to eating unhealthy, take our partners for granted and our jobs, among others things. We coast. We lose gas! Not good. 

Momentum gives us the energy, frame of mind, rhythm, and training to keep moving through life with less effort. It is precisely the time to ramp up the volume, to take advantage of the wind on your back to go farther and harder. The forward motion helps prepare for those hard times. So when the hills-- life's problems -- arrive, they are less ardous. This works during biking, it does in life.

Momentum is like a gift that propels us. Use it wisely. 

Stay in the moment and avoid getting surprised by life's hit & runs

As I bike around the city I see up close and personal people's love affair with mobile devices. So much is this obsession that folks cross the street while emailing and texting -- endangering not only their lives but others. The majority of folks are not only not present- they are somewhere else - bodies very separated from spirit.

People rarely look up, and froward, and are rarely present. Never mind the danger, a lot of beauty is lost, never seen, never appreciated.Gone.

Stay in the moment, be aware of what is happening, be present for yourself and for those you love and your neighbors. When you are separated from now -- body and spirit -- all kinds of s**t can go down - and the least of it is getting hit by a car or a bike. You are missing out on all the goodness that surrounds you.

Learn to see life with a set of new eyes

Flowing on two wheels has given me a new perspective on life. It has been like putting on a new set of eyes. I see humans differently -- how we walk, talk, gesticulate, carry ourselves when we are out in the world. I see myself differently too.  It also forces me to stay awake!

The view from above is cool because it's almost like a moving movie--flowers, trees, architecture and art that I would have missed on a typical walk to run errands are made clear to me. Even the light from the sun is different. 

Biking has taught me lessons that I have applied to when I am walking-- I pay attention, I am more awake and aware, I listen, smell (the flowers), stop and talk.  The bike, fascinatingly enough, has taught me to walk better.


  1. Hi Sandra - I did not know you were a bike rider--Very Cool! I started riding again in the summer of 2010 and it has been a revelation. My girlfriend lives in Downtown Brooklyn so I started riding there from Riverdale. It takes an hour and twenty minutes using public transportation if the connections are perfect.

    It takes an hour and twenty minutes on the bike. Exactly the same!!!

    I love riding the Hudson River Greenway and around Central or Prospect Parks. While I don't care for city traffic, I do like my "urban ride" down Broadway to the Manhattan Bridge or the Brooklyn Bridge too.

  2. Paul

    So what are some of the lessons you've learned?


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