In Africa I rode a bicycle as my main form of transportation. It was wonderful and freeing to fly from village to village, on a fat tire mountain bike. I felt like I was more in touch with the scenery, the surroundings. Sure it took longer to get where(more) I was going but that didn't matter. The concept of instant gratification just didn't exist for me at that time and place.
Years later I commuted to work by bicycle in Tacoma. This time it was more complicated. Gear had to be bought, protection from rain, lights for the darkness. Lights also, to be seen by motorists who would honk at me for no good reason. Once a car stopped suddenly in front of me and I could not brake quick enough on the wet asphalt. With a terrified curse I rode right into the back of the car and immediately fell to the street, tearing a hole in my Gortex parka. The driver sped away, while I stood up, humiliated. Someone else asked me if I was ok, and I was.(less)
On a bike
with a basket full of Pike.
I’m hardly able to see over the top
to say hi to my friend Mike.
(more) Riding strong
while pedaling around Hong Kong,
my thong got wedged in an uncomfortable place.
I let out a little scream with a disgruntled face.
In the distraction I lost my grace, couldn’t brace
and fell to my face.
All the fish scattered, swimming as if they were still alive.
Thank goodness this accident happened as I arrived
in front of my destination.
I received lots Chinese high fives for the nose dive.
I rode my way across the mountain upon my new Schwinn moped.
The day was dark my vision was blurred and I felt mildly exhausted.
As I climbed higher my legs felt lighter and I reached the mountain peak my breath now bated.
Before I knew it my leg(more)s gave way, my control faltered and I shit, I wound up dead.
Do not drink the night before scaling a mountain on your moped.(less)
'Twas the turn of the millennium and I was lackadaisically finishing another semester at the University of Florida. After pulling an all-nighter, I rode furiously to submit a paper within seconds of the deadline. I triumphantly rode home, my chartreuse mountain bike flying down a steep hill, and I(more) was suddenly inspired to test my mettle. I stood up on the pedals, gripped the thin frame with my muscular young thighs, and splayed my hands towards the skies. I closed my eyes and smiled. I can still remember the contrast of the warm sun on my face and the intense rush of air blowing in my ears. I flew past the 20 mile per hour speed limit sign and laughed. No sign would inhibit my desire to confront fear and see just how fast I could go. At the bottom of the hill my heart slowed and as the excitement subsided I was again gripped by fatigue. The next thing I knew I was on the ground. A woman was standing over me with a concerned expression on her face. I had fallen asleep at the handlebars and slammed into her honda accord. I apologized, picked up my bike and continued my ride home. My body was bruised but my pride was unscathed. After all, I was young and alive and nothing would ever stop my desire for more. Not even mild narcolepsy.(less)
Don't need hands or helmet or screaming yellow reflective jackets, or padded spandex shorts that showcase the lumps, the humps, the size of the thighs, the soft, soft middle flopping over the rest. Don't need shoes that click into place but that don't function as shoes outside of the(more) pedals. Don't need thin tires or Shimano components or a frame so light it is hollow, a frame so light that riding it is an act of trust. trust that the wind won't blow you over, trust that you would survive a collision, that you would make it.
Don't need it, but it may be useful to ride a vehicle that forces us to trust, forces us to believe in our ability to get from point a to point b in one piece, in our own power go places. It isn't safe, and it isn't pretending to be safe. what in life is anyways? There is power in moving one, two steps away from safe and feeling that quickness in our hearts, that inability to breathe and to know, to knowknow that fear is part of growth; we have to be uncertain and uncertain and uncertain until we finally come to confidence. The first time we step on a bicycle it feels like little more than steel and rubber and too thin to master the wind.
Step on the bicycle. Trust the steel. Master the wind. Your heart beat may say run, leave, this shit is too hard, too scary. There's traffic and other bicyclists and what if I fall? What if I bruise and scar and look ridiculous out there, weaving through traffic, ugly helmet, funny bicycle shorts.
Step on the bicycle. Trust the steel. Trust yourself. This is how we grow. (less)