A recent, unanticipated intersection collided my orbit with a kindred soul. His journey and transformation from being an imprisoned corporate suit to a car-free, year round bike commuter is a tale he was gracious to share with NoCoVelo365. Meet this week’s guest blogger, Rob Rupp. When he’s not blogging about how easy it is to be a bike commuter in FoCo, you can find him providing awesome customer support at Lee’s Cyclery!
April 2015, I returned to the United States after a thrilling eight-month backpacking adventure through New Zealand, Australia and Asia. This meant it was time to cut my hair, get a suit, apply for “real” jobs and – oh yes, buy a car. Having landed a sweet market research position at a legal tech firm in Rochester, NY, I had the wherewithal to purchase some new wheels. With a fancy car, fresh suit, professional job, and snazzy haircut, I was living the life I thought all post-grad twentysomethings aspire to attain. The only issue – I was miserable.
Sure, my new life was a far cry from gallivanting through foreign lands living out of a 55-liter backpack, but still! Something felt intrinsically. . off. To sit in traffic, then in a cube for eight hours, then more traffic felt inhuman. Sterile almost! I began observing my fellow motorists. Their zombie-like faces and the ubiquitous polluting machines all portrayed an uncanny excerpt from E.M. Forster’s sci-fi short, The Machine Stops; the gridlock highway like a concrete strip of caged zoo animals, oblivious to their majestic origins.
A change was needed, and bad! As a long-time cyclist and environmentalist, living a car-less life was always a nascent fantasy. Vocalizing the idea, however, friends and family thought I was crazy. (Living in Rochester, NY at the time, I understand why.)
For the sake of my sanity, in October, 2015 I went with my gut (and the financial loss). I sold the new car and outfitted my Fuji Gran Tourer with fenders and some new Continental Touring Plus tires. It was time to see if I had made a huge mistake. After a few weeks of recalibrating my commute time, learning how best to fetch groceries, and getting caught in the rain, I realized . . . hey, this isn’t so bad! After a few more weeks it was clear: I found the holy grail of fulfillment.
You may be asking how rendering my life less “luxurious” could equate to fulfillment. Good question! Here’s how:
For many, the lives we live are both free from exposure and full of dependence. We prefer a room-temperature house, AC in the car, and if it’s too hot or too cold outside, we complain. We’ve come a long way from our hunter-gatherer ancestors now heavily dependent on technology: cars, Smartphones, laptops, microwaves, etc.
The car-less lifestyle is an antithetical injection to the cozy, dependent lives that detach us from valuable nooks and crannies of the human experience. When digested mindfully, it’s a breeding ground for joy. For us bicycle commuters, when it rains, we get wet. When it’s cold, we feel the bite. Our meals are our fuel, our legs our accelerator. We become connected to and affected by the wind and the sky. When the bike needs service, we are the mechanic. We take only what we can carry, and leave no emissions in our wake.
For me, it’s a time to reconnect with the body and mind. It’s a purpose-filled hour every day to exercise my core values and adventurous roots. So that’s my journey to a car-less life and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
“A lot to do with my lifelong fascination with cycling is just how perfect the bicycle is. It’s so simple, so elegant, so brilliant… it’s probably one of the only things we’ve invented that can help humankind…” – Poppi