A Cure For Isolation

7 04 2008

Date: April 7, 2008

Mileage: 0

April Mileage: 22.9

Year to date Mileage: 120.6

Temp/Weather: 50’s (F), Sunny

Days Until RAGBRAI lottery: 24

In My Mug: Tazo Tea Berryblossom White (YUM!)

 

 

I was all set to ride to work this morning. I was literally walking out the door. I had on my padded-butt tights, my jacket, my messenger bag was all properly packed, had my shoes tied to just the right amount of tight so my feet wouldn’t go numb. I get out to the garage, and look at my bike, and then it dawns on me. I am missing something. Something so important, that I went back inside, changed my clothes, and drove to work. What was I missing? My helmet. My helmet was missing, and I refuse to ride without it. It is sitting in the back of my boyfriend’s car from my long ride to the bar last Friday. So now you all know that the last time I rode my bike was on Friday. I was pretty upset, but not so upset that I cussed him out. It was my fault for leaving it in his car. All my fault. I sent him a text message so one of us remembers to get it out of his car this evening.

 

Helmets are the one thing that makes me cringe when I see someone riding a bike and they don’t have one. How can anyone possibly feel safe on a bike without a helmet? I feel NAKED without my helmet. I could have ridden on the sidewalks the whole way to work today. I could have just been more diligent than normal. Heck, I could have ridden like a maniac. I know the chances of getting hit by a car are slim, but if I did get hit by a car, I sure want to make sure I have something to cushion my brain BESIDES my own skull.

 

There are plenty of things that we bike with on a daily basis that we couldn’t possibly consider biking without. But sometimes we need to get back to the basics. Think like a 10 year old for a moment. What do you REALLY need with you? If you are commuting 2 miles each way, do you NEED a complete mini repair kit? Or two water bottles?

 

I take with me a messenger bag with a couple books, a knitting project or two, my lunch, my small makeup bag, and then whatever random stuff happens to be floating around at the bottom of my bag at the moment.

 

Even now, I feel the burden of biking with so much stuff. I have this checklist in my head of stuff I really think I need, and I have a mild panic attack if I forget it. It’s ridiculous, actually. Should we panic if we forget our lock? No, take your bike in with you. People always get a little chuckle when I balance a hand basket on my handlebars in the grocery store, or when I lean my bike up against my table at the bookstore, or against the counter at the post office. The nice thing about going inside with your bike is that it makes you, as a cyclist, more visible. You aren’t just some jack-ass whizzing through traffic when you are standing in the grocery store aisle with your bike, contemplating Dunkin’ Donuts coffee versus Folgers coffee (or in my case, Yogi Tea versus Tazo Tea). You are a person that rides a bike, a person that goes to the post office, and the bookstore, the coffee shop, and the grocery store. I want my neighbors to SEE me out running real life errands on my bike. I might not stop and converse with them, but they might recognize me from the store the next time they are out driving. I hope it makes me more real to them.

 

I try to think of my bike as more than just a hunk of metal and rubber that gets me from point A to point B. I could really care less about my car. When I leave it during the day, I send out a little prayer to the God of Thieves and hope someone steals my car. But I would be crushed if someone stole my bike. Heck, I feel bad leaving her in my garage overnight. I hate leaving my bike outside when I run errands. It sends shivers down my spine to think that someone could be messing with her. No one is going to love and respect her as much as I do. I love my bike. I feel so much more connected to my bike after riding her for one month, than I did to any of my cars in the last 11 years of driving. My bike connects me to my world, instead of insulating me from it.

 

In this age of electronic everything that only isolates us more and more from each other, it’s no wonder I feel so much love for something that helps me feel connected. Maybe we all need to get out and bike more often. Go buy a bike and a helmet. Try riding around your neighborhood. See who you meet. What do you smell? What do you hear? Do you see something you’ve never seen before?

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One response

7 04 2008
Richard Keatinge

Bikes are fun, transport, and fitness all in one. They are great and they generally perform as advertised. Helmets aren’t designed to help if you get hit by a car and they don’t even appear to work – see the Wikipedia article. You won’t upset me by wearing one, but I hope you’ll understand why I’ve left my sweatbucket in the shed for ten years and more.

As for feeling safe, I don’t. I feel REASONABLY safe if I ride carefully! Safer than in a car anyway, at my age my risk from unfitness is a lot more than my risk from crashes.

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