Deep Breaths

Riding in Chicago rush hour traffic can really raise my blood pressure, especially when it seems that every person drives a huge SUV while fiddling with a blackberry and passing within inches of me. Even after two years of daily riding, this still gets to me a bit too much sometimes. Today during my evening commute, I had to pull over for some deep breaths and springtime appreciation.

A few minutes later I returned to the road feeling calm and refreshed. I can’t control how others drive and I can’t control the appalling lack of bicycle infrastructure, but I can control my own moods. Sometimes I literally have to stop to smell the flowers.

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28 thoughts on “Deep Breaths

  1. Sarah says:

    traffic is the one thing that scares me, but i’m still going to start riding next week! those photos are really stunning. great color tones with the bike.

  2. Anne Hawley says:

    Lovely photos, and I love your a-holes tag!

    It was risky out there for me this afternoon too. Maybe it’s volcano ash or something affecting the world’s behavior.

    Glad you paused for beauty and got home in good form.

    • Dottie says:

      Volcano ash – I like that theory. Thank you for appreciating the a-hole tag. Makes me feel better when I can tag people as such, even though they never know.

  3. Janice in GA says:

    I’ve just got started riding again after a hiatus of several years. One of the hardest things for me to get back was my road riding nerves. Mind you, I’m not riding in downtown Chicago, but there’s an equal lack of bicycle infrastructure here in this suburb of Atlanta. I just try to keep my eyes open and hold a steady line.

    One question, if I may: I see you ride Oma quite a bit. Do you prefer it to Betty Foy? No judgment, just curious. (I’m currently riding an almost 20 year old Trek hybrid.)

    • Dottie says:

      Hm, my initial thought is that I like Oma and Betty Foy equally. But if we played a word association game and you said, “your bike,” I would say “Oma.” And if I could keep only one, I would choose Oma for sure. The two bikes are so different, though, that which bike I ride really depends on my mood, the weather, and the destination. I’ve been riding Oma for the last couple of weeks, but before that I rode Betty Foy exclusively for a whole month.

    • katie says:

      I bike in Atlanta as well. Totally freaked me out the first time I did it – so many cars, and no bike lane! And I still hate it if I have to block an entire lane while waiting to make a left turn. But just be brave about your biking! If you’re timid, then I think that only encourages cars to be less careful around you. The more bikers out on the road, the better.

  4. Steve A says:

    I’m sorry, but I see those photos and I wonder about the pollen count, ESPECIALLY with that top photo!

  5. David says:

    I was just in Pittsburgh for work, Monday and Tuesday. Talk about lack of bicycle infrastructure. I was admiring a girl ride in the mess near Duquesne university where I was visiting, and my colleague cut her off in his car, and she nearly fell! I told him, and he never saw her. I did see a few hardcore people out there on bikes.
    But it kind of made me feel spoiled living in one of the most bike friendly cities in the US. Madison, WI. No. 7 on bicycling magazines top 50. We have miles and miles of bike paths and growing.

  6. Karen says:

    Flagstaff is home to many monsterously large trucks and SUVs making the streets very intimidating. I just try and make the best of it and pedal as if they don’t see me. I keep my expectations low.

  7. Doug says:

    Beautiful post Dottie…Thanks

  8. Michelle B. says:

    I am right there with you, I am on my third year bike commuting and it makes my heart race when a bus passes me too close or a car, I think instincts will never allow me to always be calm when biking. Today it is raining with expected thunderstorms so I took the day off and carpooled with some co-workers. I truly enjoy biking but I can appreciate a ride to work as well.

  9. j.marie says:

    It’s my first time visiting your blog and I think it’s fantastic! I’ve actually been seriously considering getting a bicycle to get around now that I’m in a smaller town. You may have just tipped my scale. :) Love the flower pics.

  10. Nicole says:

    I’m so glad you took a little pause and didn’t get discouraged. It can be really scary out there and unfortunately you can’t ignore all the people not paying attention.

    Keep up the great rides! Love your blog.

  11. Dave says:

    I’m sincerely thankful that I have very few of this kind of day, but from time to time it does happen. I’m also sincerely thankful that Portland has a ton of public parks and open spaces where I can stop and chill out if I need to. Nothing like blossoming cherry trees or lilac bushes to remind you the world is pretty ok :)

    Glad you were able to do the same. Cheers!

  12. Janice in GA says:

    I try not to be a retrogrouch, but it sure does seem like many folks cut me a little less slack on the street than they used to. Many seem to pass a little closer and to be less patient these days. My personal fear is getting whacked in the back of the head by someone who didn’t realize their right side rear view mirror stuck out THAT far. o_O

    So when I’m in the car and encounter bikes, I’m extra, extra nice. :)

  13. Beany says:

    Over time, my temper flares less than it used to. But I used to give myself time-outs all the time in the past. I’d stop and walk until I calmed down.

    Now I just assume the best in people and wave at everyone with a smile even when I feel that some of them need a good knock on their head to knock them back to their senses. So hard to do sometimes though!

    Your photo taking skills are seriously outstanding! You inspire me and make me want to do the same.

  14. Lorenza says:

    I’ve experienced that too, and the one that I find most scary is when buses overtake me at speed few inches away from me, not only it makes my heart jump but the air move/suction as the bus goes off nearly knocks me off my bike… it’s nice to know I am not the only one to sometime just stop and catch my breath ;) it will be nice if these things stopped once and for all from happening but they won’t deter me from cycling and enjoying it :D

  15. Doohickie says:

    Great pics! That last one is a work of art.

  16. katie says:

    Awesome pictures, as usual! Makes me feel extra proud to be a cyclist, because we can actually enjoy the scenery as we ride!

  17. I can’t get over how beautiful your blossom photography is! Thanks for sharing these images Dottie.

  18. Step-Through says:

    There is a busy intersection very close to my office. Every afternoon around 4 pm, a cop arrives at the intersection and starts controlling traffic flow. He uses his whistle A LOT. By the time I leave the office at 5 or 5:30, I’m already stressed about traffic. But once I’m out there, it kind of goes away? I pick my route based on my mood. I really wish I had your option of the lake shore path though…here it’s just streets and bigger streets!

  19. Keri says:

    Dottie, Your photography is stunning and inspirational! Thank you :-)

  20. Kate says:

    Beautiful bicycles and blossoms!


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