Sunday, January 16, 2011

lifelong bicyclist

(Thanks to Eco Velo for turning me onto this story.)

It's worth the five minutes or so to watch. Quietly powerful and inspiring.

This is why I ride. Because there's no lovelier way to go somewhere. And I want to ride as long as I can, just like Maren Pedersen.

A few thoughts:

a. I don't recall my parents getting any grief from neighbors for letting me ride my bike everywhere when I was a kid. Even when my mom sent me to James Five & Dime with a note giving me permission to pick up her cigarettes and beer (a simpler time, indeed) and I had to cross the busy intersection of Bustleton and Templeton in northeast Philadelphia, it was no big deal. I just did it. Later on, as a fifth grader in Concord, California, my mom followed behind me in the family car while I showed her the route I would take to ride to my new school. I used turn signals and looked over my shoulder before moving into the left-hand lane to turn. Route approved, I was sent off the following morning with a sack lunch in my backpack, riding the two miles each way as if it were no big deal.

b. I understand Dr. Pedersen's sense of hesitation when she began riding again after her crash. When I got the "door prize" (knocked off my bike by a suddenly-opening truck door in the bike lane) in 1997, I suffered a concussion and severely broken hand. I was off my bike for almost three months after the surgery. When I began riding again, my right hand couldn't grip the handlebar as fully -- it still can't, even today -- and I was terrified of riding next to parked cars for over a year. Still, I kept at it and today I'm ok.

c. I know that my already poor night vision continues to grow progressively worse as I age. There are now nights when riding home in the dark is really scary; and on rainy nights I sometimes have to bag the ride and toss my bike on the bus to get home. There will come a day when I simply cannot ride after dark anymore, and I worry about what that will do to my mobility. It's not too unlike Dr. Pedersen's concerns about aging and what the elderly feel like when their freedom of mobility is sharply curtailed. It's something we all have to deal with eventually. Like Dr. Pedersen, I hope that my almost-daily bike riding will forestall that inevitability for a much longer time.

After yoga this morning, I'm going for a ride. (Yes, in the rain.)

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