Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thought of the Day (For Me At Least)

"For decades, Americans have too often seen cycling as a kind of macho extreme sport, which has actually done a lot to damage the cause of winning acceptance for biking as a legitimate form of transportation. If your association with bikes is guys in spandex narrowly missing you on the weekends or YouTube videos of kids flying over ramps on their clown-size bikes, you’re likely to think that bikes are for only the athletic and the risk-prone. Manufacturers in the United States have tended to make bikes that look like the two-wheeled equivalent of Hummers, with fat tires and stocky frames necessitating a hunched-over riding position that is downright unsafe for urban biking and commuting. But that’s been changing..."
(-David Byrne, NYTimes)

This is truer than my knee-jerk reaction against rich activists wanted me to believe. When I hurt my ankle and started cycling to keep in shape, one of the things people (non-cyclists) said to me was, "Just please god no spandex."

And while, yes, I did eventually don some spandex (see exhibit A, below), that's only for road cycling, which is a totally thing than what I spend most of my saddle time doing, which is riding my bike instead of driving.

This is me looking regrettably dumb in my spandex at the Tour to Tanglewood.

I think something happened to biking in the 90s. Because if you look at used bikes - which I do, a lot - there are practically zero road bikes from the 90s out there. It's all mountain bikes like The Bruiser, who is from the 90s, or stupid little BMX bikes that are so utterly unsuitable for commuting that let's just say it doesn't surprise me that the people I see riding them around town aren't wearing helmets.

I didn't have any access to bikes during that decade beyond the hot pink mountain bike Santa gave me even though I specifically begged for any color other than pink. So I wasn't all that keen on it and I never really rode as a hobby. Plus we lived in a cul-de-sac at the bottom of a really, really steep hill and... you know, I don't have to justify my latecoming cycling. I was inactive as a kid in general so it shouldn't surprise anyone that the amount I knew about bikes was that Santa didn't want me to be happy.

But I think the hipsters and the economy are actually working together to turn things around. I know that sometimes it's hard to find a place to lock up my bike on campus and I'm considering going around with a camera and making a bike-of-the-week feature on this blog because there are some really beautiful road bikes being used.

And while I wish that increased use of bikes as transportation went hand-in-hand with increased use of helmets as brain protection, my mom always told me to fight one battle at a time. And focus on the positives. And if you don't appreciate what Santa brings you, you might get coal next time.

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