Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Bicycling Lifestyle

[Yellojkt, thanks for giving me a topic for today. I started to answer in the comments and it turned into a full length rant.]

I got a free copy of Bicycling magazine last month and they had an article about the "invisible bikers," these are people who ride their bikes because they can't afford cars or don't have a driver’s license. Apparently the magazine's target audience is largely unaware of the real world around them, and the existence of these people is news to them. One of the characteristics of these poor unfortunate invisible ones is that they ride inexpensive bikes, like (*gasp*) Huffys, that they buy at like, (no!) WalMart. Well, I guess I fall between the bicycle cracks, because I ride a Huffy one-speed coaster brake bike that I bought at Sports Authority for $99.99. I do have a car and a driver’s license, but when my car was stolen last summer I explored alternative methods of commuting to work and discovered that I really like riding my bike instead of driving. (My car was recovered, unharmed, after two days.) It’s about seven miles from my house to my job and most of the way I have dedicated bike lanes. The weather in south Florida is great for biking year-round. In the summer, I just have to wipe off the sweat before I change into my work clothes, and be sure to apply sunscreen. If it rains, I get wet; I just keep my work clothes in a plastic bag. That doesn’t happen very often.

This weekend I watched a short biography of Michael Palin, called “Comic Roots.” It showed his childhood home and schools, and it incidentally showed quite a bit of casual bike-riding. When Michael wanted to go from one place to another, he hopped on his bike. If it was cold, he put on his overcoat, and rode away on the bike. He is a living advertisement for biking as transportation. He has obviously been riding all his life and he is in excellent physical condition. That is the kind of bicyclist I would like to be. It helps that I lived in Key West for ten years or so, and never had a car when I lived there. We went everywhere by bicycle.

Up here in America, my biking behavior is considered eccentric, but I’m used to "dancing to a different drummer", so that's okay. Most of the people I work with are unaware that I ride my bike to work, just as they also don't know that I buy my "power suits" at Salvation Army. But that's another blog item.


yellojkt said...

I road bicycle for exercise and have missed most of this summer and fall due to medical tragedies, mine and others. Biking to work is impractical because from my house to work it is 15 miles each way which is a leisurely 90 minute ride or a serious 60 minute ride, especially since there is a steep river valley between the two.

I work near a huge government facility and some people there do bike to work, but they have showers and locker rooms and everything.

I need to get back in the pedals.

Karen said...

I encourage you to get back out there when the weather warms up this spring! My dad is an avid recreational biker. He does the Oklahoma Freewheel ride every year--last year was his 22nd one, I think. He's 77 years young and bicycling is a big part of his fitness program. Are you in any bike clubs? It is a good place to meet friendly people, if you don't go to the really snobby ones. And even the snobby ones are probably friendly, if your bike meets their standards.

riverofocean said...

I checked out the same article about the "Invisible Bikers". Yes it did have some snobby attitude as the writer rode around on his 'Seven' custom bicycle (which I would love to have) looking at the people on cheap bikes. But the article was a good read. Everyone has a perspective, even the guy on the fancy bike. I would like to read a article from one of the "invisible Bikers", that would also be a good read.