So, last night, a friend and I biked downtown to watch the Delta Saints and Michael Fronte and Spearhead play at Live on the Green, a free concert series put on by Lighting 100, a local radio station here in Nashville. According to the google, this bike ride was 4.4 miles and would take us 26 minutes. No problem.
To be honest, I had a little bit of anxiety about this, as I would hope any normal adult would. We would be biking on city streets around rush hour, and the distance was pretty far.
Nashville is a great town for a lot of things, local food, outdoor activities, live music of all sorts. Public transportation is not something Nashville does well. There are buses and taxis and… that’s it. At least in the downtown/midtown area. We have a train going from downtown to one of the major outlying towns, but I’ve never used it (which is not to say a lot of people haven’t). I’m really excited for the new bus system connecting downtown and the West Side (my side!) because it means a public transit upgrade. But I digress. What I really mean to say here, is that one of the things that has really improved in Nashville in the past couple of years is the amount and the visibility of the bike lanes.
But all the bike lanes in the world do not bulldoze down the massive hills that make up Nashville.
When I was training for my half-marathon, my father and I were discussing hill training. I said that that was all I did, because Nashville is all hills. He said “Yup, you never really get to know your city until you get out onto it on your own feet or on a bike.” What he meant was that you don’t really know how hilly or flat your city is when you’re cruising around in a car, being motored over those hills and thinking “this isn’t so steep.” Yeah, right.
Well, last night, we learned about Nashville’s hills. We learned that my neighborhood is in a valley. We learned that 30-pound cruiser bikes are really cute in the store, but they are no fun to pedal up a hill, and they are really no fun to walk up a hill. We remembered from childhood how much fun it was to speed down a hill after you just pushed your bike up the other side. We learned that momentum is key, and you should try to keep it going into the next uphill climb, because there will be a next uphill climb.
I also feel like I am starting to take measured risks again. It was much easier when I had a partner in crime to take this risk with me. Also, riding a bike is something children do all the time. It’s a major mode of transportation in my city (I am starting to wonder why) and for most of the world. And in the grand scheme of things, 4.4 miles is really not far at all, especially not on 2 wheels.
But in this as in everything else, I have to remember that growth happens in baby steps. I’m starting a freelance writing business at the moment, and I’ve been scared to take the leaps there: what happens if I buy all the business cards and I don’t use them? What if I don’t drum up any business? What if, what if, what if?
If I sat around and stewed in the “what if”s yesterday, we never would have made it to the concert, much less made it out of the driveway. So I put on my helmet yesterday, and we walked our bikes up the State House hill. I bought the business cards, and I’ve been taking the meetings as well. Because after all of that work and sweat, you get to feel the breeze when you whoosh down the other side.