html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: ...before a fall.

Friday, April 06, 2007

...before a fall.

Ali’s friend is visiting, so yesterday she rode my Clara, whom Sage totally fixed. Clara’s a single speed now, no unsightly gear levers or derailer. She’s geared a little high for me here in flat Sacramento, but I bet I like that a lot better in hilly Oakland. (My fixed gear is still waiting for me to get the frame painted.) Anyway, Ali said her friend hadn’t been on a bike for a long time, and Ali’d forgotten what it was like to be all wobbly on a bike.

I’m at a level of confidence on my bike I’ve never felt before. I’m nothing like the real bike people, like Sage who stands on his frame as he rides, or messengers who weave in and out of traffic, or anything like that. But I stop at intersections and hover motionless for three-four seconds before I have to put my foot down. I believe we have discussed turning corners with no hands before. I didn’t realize I was riding faster until a friend said something about slowing it down a bit. Last time Chris and I rode somewhere, he asked if I was showing off when I wasn’t.

The key is to have no choice about riding your bike. If I go away for the weekend in a car, when I come back, the comfort on my bike is gone for the first couple rides. I know that if I had a choice, I would choose a car for trips to the store. But when you get back on your bike, it is not the same as it was before the car ride. It comes back in a mile or two, but you don’t have that feeling where thought and motion are the same. And it took me two or three months of only bike riding to get there in the first place.

I know I’ll never convince anyone to give up a car. But if you are thinking of it on your own and trying to think how much you’ll like only having a bike, I’ll just say that you can’t know how great it feels in advance. No matter how much you like riding your bike, you would like it more if you weren’t switching between a bike and a car. You also can’t understand how even the rides you dread, the ones on a cold dark night, invariably lift your mood. They are always better than you expect. Giving up my car was a good decision.

13 Comments:

Anonymous quirkybook said...

I wish I had had someone, anyone, tell me how unnecessary a car is in Palo Alto. I was gloriously carfree until the ripe old age of 26, when I moved out west, and everyone told me that it was utterly necessary to have a car out here in the suburbs. Um, if biking can be your primary mode of traveling in 20-degree weather through Harvard Square, it can certainly be the same in the Peninsula/South Bay.

When I move to SF, my plan is to bike to Caltrain, commute to Palo Alto, and then bike to work. I <3 my bike.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

What's her name?

3:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bikes aren't girls.

And, a car is necessary in the bay area if you're doing anything more than driving to and from work really.

I could commute to and from work easily by bike, I live close to the train, and my office is close to a station too.

But, the pool halls are dispersed all over the place. The climbing gym is several miles north, and time constraints make the train more hassle than it's worth. And Basketball wasn't close to anything either.

Everything just seems so far apart here. I think my closest friend lives 10 miles away. Everything is stretched out along the strip between the bay and the hills.

Justin

3:46 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

About half of bikes are girls.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know, when I go to a bike store significantly less than half the bikes are girl's bikes.

Justin

4:17 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

You can be a diamond frame and still be a girl bike. Clara is.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

That's all well and good, but there's still far fewer women's bikes at the bike store.

In fact, there are far fewer women's bike models from the manufacturers to begin with.

Justin

6:58 PM  
Blogger Noel said...

Yay for bikes! Gosh does mine need some work but I love cycling. It is a pity that there isn't anywhere in particular to go in Birmingham -- in London I used to do about 100km a week whatever the weather. Get the right gear and it isn't a problem.

It is amazing how quickly a car can come to seem necessary. The bike has been in the shed over winter (oh the shame!) and I've become used to driving to a certain location a few kilometres away. This location came to be seen as 'far away' and hence a necessary car trip. When the gf (who normally campaigns on behalf of the car) was away I cycled it instead. And it was easy! And fun! So henceforth it's back to the bike for me.

1:32 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

I'd like to cycle here, but I can't face doing it with 4 kids in tow! So it's public transport and walking as much as possible for us.

I used to cycle loads as a student and for the couple of years after that, but then my boyfriend got a motorbike, and then I married a different bloke who already had a car.

Friends of mine have a Christiana trike, on which they can fit two of them, a toddler and a baby :)

3:17 AM  
Anonymous Peter said...

I just never feel safe riding a bicycle on anything except the least busy roads. Too many careless and/or inattentive drivers, not to mention the schmucks who get their rocks off by deliberately crowding cyclists.

Logically, I know that most people ride completely without incident on busy streets, but it's a hard fear to shake.

10:59 AM  
Blogger matt said...

I love not having a car.

5:40 PM  
Blogger bobvis said...

It's 33 degrees outside right now. It makes it really easy to get into my car and really hard to get on my bike. I wish I could ride year round, but it's just a bit tough.

Justin: Bikes aren't girls.

Well, they aren't guys. I don't ride guys.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous yoyo said...

You also can't understand how hot and humid/cold and windy it is in every part of the US that isn't the pacific most of the year. I could well just be a big ninny tho.

11:49 PM  

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