Friday Musing: Crankin’ Out the Crankiness

TGIF fellow Bike Commuters!

Despite the warm-ups we’ve had here in Chicago, I’ve been battling the winter blues and all-around crankiness. Some of it could also be my dismay at getting sick again – just in time for last weekend’s Chicago Bike Swap.

The Swap went very well, but I was zapped by the end of the day and spent the next couple of days at home feeling “blah”. I’ve also been sick – but not quite too sick not to bike – during some wonderful near 70-degree days this past week and felt that much worse since I could not fully embrace and enjoy those days on my bike or otherwise. I should be be happy with this weather news and I am:

Our warm winter has been well documented. It was the third warmest on record for the state and the 4th warmest for the US. This winter tied for sixth place with the most number of days with a high of 40° or warmer. We enjoyed 50 40° degree days this winter. This winter also tied for sixth place for the least amount of days with 1 inch of snow on the ground or more. We had just 13 days this winter with 1″ of snow on the ground or more.

In all my negativity, I’ve also been wondering if all this great weather will spell doom for my spring.

Time to snap out of it!

Today – at long last – my head seems to finally be clearing and the fatigue subsiding, and I feel like it’s time for me to spring my head back up and beat this funk!

Riding my bike usually helps me battle the blues. It gives me an opportunity to crank out the crankiness (as I like to think of it) and arrive at work or home with more focus.

But sometimes my bike commutes actually crank up my level of crankiness, especially on days when I’m low on patience or my head is in a fog of congestion (as it has been most of this week). Doing battle with cars and pedestrians just gets me more riled up and I find that my frustrations build rather than dissipate.

My co-workers have suggested that I try taking a break from my bike. “A break from my bike?!?” Seriously? Never. The prospect of having to rely on the unpredictable schedule of public transit or get in my car (with the high price of parking and gasoline) quickly reminds me that biking is the best way for me to go – and that at the end of the day, it does calm me.

At least on my bike I feel the breeze (and sometime volatile winds) on my face. I feel a sense of control over my commute, while at the same time I sense the vulnerability of being so exposed on my bike. Most importantly, I feel the fullness of being alive.

I like what my bike commute does for me – on the good and the bad days. I guess it’s why I keep it crankin’…


  1. Mike Myers

    If I didn’t ride my bike, I think I would go nuts. I’ve been unemployed for six months with absolutely no prospects. Money is tight, so I have to find something to do all day that doesn’t cost much.

    The bike is it. Luckily I live in a place with rideable weather 12 months out of the year, except for the occasional thunderstorm day.

    My mileage now is more than it was when I was commuting, and my commute is long. If this job situation doesn’t improve, I think my only option is to sell everything and hit the road on my bike. Maybe I design my route to meet all the BikeCommuters staff. California for RL and Moe, Ohio for GR, Chicago for Elizabeth, KC for Noah—but I don’t think I can make it to Hawaii for Mir.I.Am….

  2. georgethecyclist

    “Take a break from the bike!” Your co-workers certainly don’t understand you if they think that would make you feel better. They should be wondering if you’ve been biking enough if you’ve got a case of the blahs.

  3. Ghost Rider

    Mike — we’ve got a spare bedroom and a bike workshop at your disposal if you find yourself in Ohio!

    As far as crankiness — NOTHING soothes my soul like a bike ride. Even if I have, ahem…”encounters” with motorists, the rest of the ride eases me.

  4. Elizabeth (Post author)

    george – I like your way of thinking… I clearly need more riding time! I know I’ve been bummed by my inability to be able to get out more to enjoy this mild winter. Getting the itch to get out more.

  5. BluesCat

    If ANYBODY suggested I “take a break from the bike,” I’d probably respond with “Sure, I’ll do that just as soon as YOU prove you can ‘take a break’ from BREATHING!”

  6. Mir.I.Am

    @E – I feel ya, cycle lady! Whenever I was feeling blue because of the weather, or job, or stress, or craptastic roommate situations: I cruise out in the a.m. and make it a point to think of all the things I was lucky to have in life! One bike commuting hour later, and my positive daydreaming put me in a much better place that if I took the bus and got to work a half hour later! BIKES TO THE RESCUE!

  7. A New Bike

    I’ve loved the warm winter we’ve had here in Boise, but it makes me feel uneasy about how easily Spring has came. Kind of a weird feeling to sift around.

  8. Mike

    You’re sick. You’re cranky. Your “head’s in a fog”. Sounds like you need a trip to Arizona.

  9. Elizabeth (Post author)

    @Mike – Oh… I totally agree!!!

    My mom was there in February for a week… lucky lady. 🙂

  10. BluesCat

    “Sounds like you need a trip to Arizona.”

    Heck, YEAH! It’s 63° F in Phoenix as I write this.

    Took a 3-mile round trip ride to the grocery store this morning. Got home and … oops … forgot I needed to stop by Target. Took ANOTHER 3-mile round trip ride. Got home and … OOPS … forgot I needed to stop by Office Max, too. So, took yet another 3-mile round trip ride. Got home and Mrs. Cat sez, she sez: “Oh, I needed you to stop by the UPS Store, did you forget? Well, you probably don’t want to go out AGAIN, do you?”

    I slapped my palm against my forehead and said “Oh, yeah, that’s right, I’m sorry. No, I said I’d do it so I’ll do it.” And, with a grin on my face, I headed out for YET ANOTHER 3-mile round trip ride. (chuckle) All four stores are in the same shopping mall.

    I’d do something about this poor memory, but it might cut into my ride time!

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