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Sunday, October 08, 2006


Did I ever want to get out andride?

I was asked this at the bike club Friday dinner. The question was met with a bemused silence... (um, did I ever ride?????) and then he qualified “On a motorcycle. You used to, right?”

I answered that I didn't know with some curiosity and interest, mentioning that it always had been scary... and heard a little voice in my head muttering Christine Lavin's "good thing he can't read my mind."
Upon consideration...

Fact is, when I bought that Yamaha 250 in my early teaching career, it was because I wasn't brave enough to get a bicycle. I'd considered it, and the usual “shower, clothes, logistics” questions came to play. My daily commute was 3 miles, but I did like to cruise 33 to Mom's house many weekends, and was it about the same distance to the Birchmere?

That sense of freedom, of power between my legs, and camaraderie with fellow bikers – I came to love it. I've got it tenfold now. Granted, I do miss getting that solidarity wave/nod/smile that the motorbikers gave me, but there are some similar exchanges with the two-wheelers, especially if I'm on the Xtra, and I think they may be on the upswing. Maybe I need to invent a solidarity sign.

The power thrill is much sweeter when the power is from my legs, the freedom deeper and wider when I've covered 50 miles under my power, especially when it's 50 miles I needed to travel and would have done in the car. (Bloominton & back was delicious.)

Fact is, I can no longer experience untrammeled rejoicing in the cacophony of a fossil fuel driven vehicle, per Bicycling as a Lenten Practice. I know that if I hopped on a bike I could and would take the joy that moment provided, especially if it were in good company. Speed, however, has never been what thrilled me; the wind and the power and, to be honest, the smallness and relative simplicity are what warmed my heart. A motorcycle was a step in the right direction - but I'm further along the path now. Let's go, Big Red. Solidarity forever!

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