Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Easy Pedaler

My photo for today on the Photo365 blog is of my bike. It got me thinking.

It's funny, I live in a city where you really need to have a car. I don't. Some of the time, it's a big hassle - well, ok a lot of the time, it's a big hassle, but I take a lot of pleasure in being stubbornly different. It's not easy. You have to work to be a bike rider. In all honesty, I'm a pretty sanctimonious twit with a martyrdom complex about riding my bike. I try to hide it, but I think I'm better than all those car drivers. I suffer with my hair shirt of greased pant-legs and mud-spattered bags. I wear them proudly.

No one anywhere in the US really designs with bike in mind. Even on most campuses, bike lanes are nowhere to be found and bike racks are an afterthought at best, placed not where most useful, but where there seems to be room. The racks in my apartment complex are bolted to the ground in such a way that you can't actually park with your wheel through the bars. Bike lanes anywhere are few and far between.

Most days I'm on the bike to and from campus, which is about 15 minutes one way. That's really not far or time-consuming, but it does a lot for me. It's a physical tuneup for the mental workout on campus. I've never been able to feel really comfortable driving, even when I did it every day. I've never really been a car person. But on a bike? Yeah, much better.

I guess I get what motorcycle freaks talk about when the say it's all about the wind in your hair and the bugs in your teeth. Except with the bike, it's all me. There's a nasty hill on the way to school. Every day, I push myself to get up it, panting, getting the heart rate up. When I get to the top, there's a stop sign and every time I stop there, I look at the cars around me. They didn't do anything to get up that hill.

C'mon folks, go for a ride. It's good for you.


Ianqui said...

Hallelujah! Amen!

I don't bike to work, because, well, I walk to work, but I've been affiliated with Transportation Alternatives for a while, which is working to advocate in NYC exactly what you talk about in your post. So yeah, I wish there were more sanctimonious people like you!

After 3 years, now that Super G finally has a permanent job in the city, we're selling our car. By the end of the month. So that I too can be sanctimonious about not owning a car.

Phantom Scribbler said...

I trained one year for the cross-country Bike Aid fund raiser. Didn't end up going, for various reasons. And I eventually stopped cycling, for one reason: It scares me. The roads are so narrow, and the trucks are so wide, and I cannot cope with that level of risk, not even for the chance to be sanctimonious.