Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Get a bike. Then you'll understand, pt 2

I wrote the previous post late in the evening, after bedtime really. This morning, as I thought about what I'd written, I wondered if today's premium-at-perfume-prices will provoke people to park their SUVs, and if some of them will actually attempt to use bikes to replace them.

I wondered too if the consciousness raising I mentioned could really happen. How could it not, I asked myself. These new riders will surely sense "man's motorized inhumanity to man" directed for the first time at THEM, vulnerable on their bicycles. How can they not be changed?

And then I thought: What if the prohibitive fuel prices last a year or so, during which time we gain thousands of converts to bikes from cars and trucks? And what if fuel prices fall back to an "acceptable" level? Will our converts continue to ride?

If they do not, if they get back in their SUVs as soon as they can afford to, will they remember what life was like when they were riding? Or will they quickly become the preoccupied, rushed, territorial bullies they once were?

We'll see, huh? Meanwhile, as cyclists we can't be totally upset about gas prices. Lance's exploits sold lots of bikes - to club cyclists who drive to each ride. Maybe expensive fuel will sell cycling to people who'll ride because they can't afford to drive or would rather spend the money elsewhere.

On another note: As I rode on the Cherry Creek Trail this morning, I thought for the 1,000th time: Please, New Urban Hipster Cyclists, ask your Dead Authentic, Real-Rider friends to put their hands on their handlebars when they're riding on busy bike paths. Certainly doesn't bother me, but I'll bet it makes some people nervous. People that timid just don't belong on the paths.


Tom said...

I'm a newbie....(sort of... I did a little mountain biking in the nineties - and a little street biking in the sixties and seventies). I have been partially commuting for about a month now. For me the price of gas isn't the primary motivator to be out there. Its the combination. Last week I told my cardiologist I was biking, he told our area was great for biking because we have lots of hills. Exercise, a need to be green, a realization that the world is changing, a look to the future.... al these things played into my decision to go for it.

On the one hand I am glad for the "authentic, real-rider" who has been at this for years. They deserve much applause. I hope they don't underestimate the late bloomers. Last week I found my self sailing down a midtown street riding "no-hands" and yelling WOO-HOO. I think I'll be doing this for a while no matter the price of oil does.

Maynard said...

Hiya Tom!
I confess: I seldom think of how many people take up cycling for reasons of health, kindness to (and conservation of) nature. I'm glad you're enjoying your riding.

When I spoke of "authentic, real-riders" in quotes, the quotes mean that what's inside them is not as-described.

I see guys (always guys) on bikes with fashionably low handlebars (frequently with only one place to put each hand). They're not limber enough to ride any distance while bending to the bars, and they are risk-takers, happy to spread the risk to others on the busy, narrow bike path. They pedal through the skaters and dog walkers, stroller-pushers and cyclists, no-hands. And not a WOO-HOO to be heard. No joy. Grim detachment instead.

Thanks for reading, thanks for riding, Maynard

Khal said...

Welcome to the fray, Tom. Your reasons for riding are almost identical to what mine were back in 1979, when I started out.

By the way, I don't think I have become more "authentic" or "real" with my latest rig than I was with that stock Motobecane Mirage back 29 years ago. Just have a little more income than I did as a grad student.

Just be careful of the no-hands stuff, at least until you have a few more miles under your hind end. The Zen of cycling is best enjoyed with intact collarbones, let me tell yah!