Tag Archive: bicycle memories

Friday Musings: What Got You Pedaling?

Utterly Shameless Bike Love Month: May 2012

New Recruits: May is just around the corner, and so the creeper approaches: National Bike to Work Month!  And, like every fun-loving, zero-emissions, two-wheeled, “coffee + eggs = bike fuel”, transportation cyclist, I always wonder if this year’s Bike to Work Month will bring new commuter faces beyond the month of May.  Yes Velodactyls, this is what keeps me up at night (either that or the heaping tablespoons of Nutella I shoved in my face post-dinner).

How can we get more people to commute by bike? May 2012 will be a barrage of Bike to Work Week challenges, workshops, rallies, and bikey SWAG, as local bike organizations shotgun their way through possible Spring recruits.  Our own star staff writer Elizabeth posed the question in 2010: We all know bike commuting is the best thing since the Jammy Shuffle, so why aren’t more people doing it?  I gotta admit, I’m on bike commuting like a woman on smack, so I surely don’t know the answer!

Calf-Envy, this is RL when he commutes sans SPDs.

Minority Report: As the minority, commuter cyclists face the same puzzled looks from co-workers, semi-sweet concerned lectures from loved ones, and blatant stares of calf envy (hello Mr. Officer, I’m up HERE) as we think to ourselves – if only you’d know the glories of the dark side, you’d be out of excuses and on a bike too!  Nevertheless, we’ve had some progress.  Last year, this Atlantic Cities article reported increased bike ridership across the U.S.  (If you like colorful graphs, you should definitely click the link to this article).

Overall, a universal increase U.S. Bike Commuters over the past decade! I'll take it!

Converting to bicycle commuting is all the rage in U.S. cities, if the proliferation of blogs devoted to the topic is any indication. But we wanted to know: Just how big have increases in the percentage of bike commuters been in specific cities? Are there regional differences? Cities where bike commuting isn’t catching on at all? We surveyed 55 major U.S. cities to see if we could find the answer.  While there are stark differences across individual cities, taken as a group these metros saw an average increase in their percentage of regular bicycle commuters of 70 percent between 2000 and 2009.

The chart-laden article concluded that Portland had the highest percentage of trips taken by bike at 5.8% with a 222% increase from 2000 to 2009 (Don’t make me graph battle you, Portland.)  I can say for my office, the percentage of riders has increased since I started three years ago from 1 out of 16 to 6 out of 16!  HUZZAH!

Majority Report! Best Monday of my life: 7 bikes for 10 employees at the office... fist pump.

So, we all agree we need more bike commuters on the road to alleviate traffic congestion, stress, obesity, arthritis, pollution, drugs, guns, high fructose corn syrup, and other bad stuff (we can solve world peace with transportation cycling, right!!?)

My question today is what got you pedaling?  We weren’t all born on fetus-sized bikes so it had to start somewhere!  A lot of bike commuters have shared our first bicycle memories, but what converted you to utility cycling?  Was it a Bike to Work Month challenge, an enthusiastic bike-loving friend, a hand-me-down bike, a car in the shop, or an inspirational blog on bike commuting (hint, hint!)?  Safety in numbers means that bike commuters need more bike commuters!  So, muse along with us and share your thoughts!

~Happy Friday Bike Commuters.

Best parking spot at the beach - that's what's got me pedaling!

Friday Musings: Share your bicycle memories

When I ride, I daydream a lot…some of you can relate to that based on our recent article. I sometimes think back on all the fond memories I have had on or around bicycles, and I began to wonder if our readers would share some of theirs.

It could be your first experiences as a child, or the feelings you had when you may have rediscovered bikes as an adult. Whichever the case, we’d love to hear about some of your bike memories. Here, we’ll kick this off by sharing some of ours:

Noah: I remember living in Nebraska, and upgrading from my first 12″ toddler bike to a 20″ Huffy Challenger BMX bike, and tackling a bunch of awesome dirt hills. I remember exploring the outskirts of town from sun-up to sun-down with my best friends, all by bicycle, and my parents didn’t freak out. I’d tell them of our adventures. As long as I was back home by the time the street lights came on, they were cool with it. No nanny-state for us as kids! The incoming generation of adults is going to be so messed up when they experience real life for the first time, without knee pads and safety harnesses.

Know the glory of the Princess BEAST.

Miriam: A magenta girl’s cruiser something like this! Let’s recall the first time I rode a bike as a tiny fetus… I think I was about 7 years old?! or 17?! I can’t remember. But I DO remember this awesome magenta banana-seat bike my mom got me at a garage sale as my first bike with no training wheels. Single speed, coaster brake, sun-damaged plastic basket complete with plastic flowers, sparkling paint job, and flowing glittery tassels at the handle bars. Needless to say, this thing was a princess BEAST. I was intimidated, “Wha? A bike wit onwee toooo wheelz? Where is the little wheelz, Ma?!” So I cowered in the driveway and decided that looking at the banana-seater and playing in mud was just as good as riding it. ENTER UNCLE JIMMY! Uncle Jim was like that cool younger uncle you had who was single and worked at the ice cream shop down the street, who let you climb on him like a jungle gym and liked to play outside with you… One weekend, Uncle Jim told me to quit being a sissy la-la and forced me to get on the bike. We “rode” up and down the street together as he ran behind me helping me balance on two wheels. He was holding the handle at the back of the banana-seat as I pedaled slowly; he told me he wouldn’t let go until I said so. After a few jaunts, I started to build up speed – with the sparkly tassels signifying light speed was just around the corner! “Don’t let gooooooooooooo!” I kept screaming, as I pedaled faster. I realized that he eventually let go and was running behind the bike pretending to hold it! And like, that, SHAZAM! I cruised off into the sunset at age 1907! (If by sunset you mean the ivy-covered chain-link fence at the end of Francis Court and by age 1907 you mean age where crashing into ivy results in crying disproportionate to actual injury). I guess stopping was a little too much for my fetus brain to handle with all that adrenaline…

Jack: So many of my memories of youth revolve around bikes…spending time in my grandfather’s garage/bike paradise, learning all the aspects of building and maintaining fine Italian machines at the hands of a man who approached his bicycles with the same care he took repairing Rolex and Omega watches (his “day job”). He taught me so much — including how to use a bench-mounted buffing wheel to polish up a beautiful pair of 1035 high-flange hubs just prior to him building a wheelset around them. I also remember spending a lot of time riding on the back of his tandem, with a brutally stiff Brooks saddle wedged into my nether regions. My most fond memory of him is the last bike ride we went on together: me, a teenager at the end of my lackluster road racing career, him in his mid 70s. After a leisurely 30-mile cruise, we decided to sprint back to the W&OD trailhead in Vienna, Virginia. The man dusted me like I was standing still. Humbling, to be sure.

The most vivid bike memory for me, though, is the transition off training wheels. Early on that day, a practice session ended up with me sprawled over the hood of a parked car, cursing that blasted two-wheeled monstrosity. Later that day, after some gentle persuasion by my father, I had another go at it and suddenly, EVERYTHING CLICKED…the balance, the steering, the braking. I was free, and I was more excited than I had ever been before.

Anyhow, enough memory-lane-action for us. Let’s hear YOUR stories, if you’re in the sharing mood. Just leave your comments below.