Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I Don't Want To Be A "Cyclist"

I was thinking, the other day, as I sipped a cup of coffee and watched a lady park in front of Kaladi Brothers, that we don't think of people who drive cars as "automobilists" or even "drivers". We make no mention of someone's mode of transportation unless it is other than by automobile.

This was not always the case, of course. A hundred years ago, in a big city, people would turn to watch an automobile as it chugged down the road, hoping to get a glimpse of the wealthy and/or famous person inside. And, in a small town, all commerce might cease, temporarily, when an automobile made an appearance. Shopkeepers would leave their businesses and join the townspeople on the sidewalk to see such an unusual sight.

Now, I'm not saying that those days will ever come again, in our lifetime. If they do, let's hope it is a gradual transition, and not precipitated by some combination of natural or man-made disasters which plunges us out of the world as we know it and back into the pre-auto age. Our economy, indeed the world-wide economy, would collapse in such a case. We are entirely too dependent on cheap personal (oil-fired) transportation and cheap commercial (oil-fired) transportation to be able to change overnight without grave consequences.

I do hope, however, that bicycle use continues to increase as the availability of cheap oil decreases. I do hope that, within my lifetime, bicycles will cease to be a novelty form of transport here in the good ole U. S. of A.

As it is now, people in my office are completely baffled when I show up on my bike. In the summer, they can't believe I would choose to ride in the heat. In the winter, they are stunned that I would leave the house in the cold.

I point out to them that I have often mountain biked in Moab when the temperature on the Slickrock Trail was well over 100 degrees F, and that I have ridden many times in below-zero temps. Eighty-five or ninety degrees just doesn't phase me, and it's easy to stay warm while pedalling in 20 to 30 degree temps.

What shocks them is that I ride such a great distance (8-1/2 miles, each way!) on a bike. My goodness!

Even with 13 stoplights (and I have no idea how many stop signs) between here and there, I average 35 minutes, each way, on the bike. Again, I point out, that 100 mile road rides and 75 mile mountain bike rides are easily done by even an old man such as myself. Seventeen miles in a day is not a big deal.

But, what it comes down to, is that the people I work with just can't comprehend going anywhere under their own power. Of course, our business is building and maintaining highways (Colorado Dept. of Transportation), so I guess they are predisposed to think of transportation in terms of "Motor" vehicles.

And, that brings me (finally) back to the subject of this post: I hope that bicycling will eventually become mainstream enough that people no longer have a special name for those who ride. Because, if they don't think of us as "different", then, perhaps, we will finally be seen as "equal" while on the road.



At 11:42 AM , Blogger katina said...

and down here if you ride your bike in the middle of the summer everyone just says " you think you're lance armstrong?"

At 7:54 PM , Blogger Core said...

Katina, I lived in Austin when LA won his 1st TDF and it was actually pretty cool to have that asked of me! Just the fact that people knew of him was enough to make me feel good. :)

And people at my job ponder my commuting lot quizically. "How can this guy possibly ride 9 miles each way in the 45 degree weather on a BIKE??" Ye Gods. The mind boggles!

Yesterday's 1st brutal Winter storm tested my mettle, however.

At 3:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"100 mile road rides and 75 mile mountain bike rides are easily done by even an old man such as myself."

Jon, how old are you anyway? I get the some of the same incredulous looks from co-workers, usually on really rainy days. The one guy in my office who could concieveably bike to work came up with all sorts of reasons why he really couldn't. My wife and I now have only one vehicle, so for me it's either the bike or the bus (or as I like to call it in the winter, "the flu mobile.") Madison is a very bike friendly town and we are lucky to have a couple of bike advocates in the Legislature, one from each party, although I heard recently that the Democrat was engaging in some of the militant behavior that does not endear us to drivers. As you noted, we are expected to play by the rules.

At 8:06 PM , Blogger Jon said...

Well, Bobbert, I'm a spry 45 years old. And, I have to say, I'm in pretty good shape for an eighty-year-old man!


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