Alicia is getting an electric bike. She posted about how eager she is to ride, and described a trail she is looking forward to, how she will be riding "all over it..." It's funny that my reaction is one of feeling familiar with her yearning anticipation, as though I can totally relate. The truth is, I love my e-bike now... now that I am over the sense of anxious dread that first gripped me when Geoff announced that we were "getting bicycles," that we were "going out, into the world, and riding those bicycles," that it would "be fun," and "good" for me. My first response was fear, which in my case triggers resistence and mild displays of petulance. And that fear took riding miles and miles to somewhat dissipate. I am closing in on 3,000 miles ridden since we first got our bicycles, and I am happy to say that I have enjoyed some wonderful moments when I felt excitement riding, and even eagerness to ride. My favorite rides include the times when the rain chased us home, or night rides in summer, when stars and owls, bats, and thrills accompany us. The best rain ride caught us half way through a regular route, and there was thunder, lightning, and hail, too, and I laughed, and screamed all the way home. We were soaked through. And, of course, I have written about all of this before... Geoff's love, my fears, the progress, and even some of my more wild fantasies and make-believe schemes.
Geoff and I are still riding back and forth, in front of the house, practically. I am still nervous. We ride the same neighborhood route, most everyday, sticking to quieter streets, and loops. Usually we pedal 5 miles out, and 5 miles back. The nice thing about pedal assist is that I don't have to get off the bike and walk it up hills. It's never a free ride, because the heavy bike always needs some pedaling, and as I've gotten stronger, I use less assist, even on the steep coastal hills. Now, like Alicia, I think about trails. I need to find some near to home, some that aren't shared with cars. The trails I am thinking of more and more often are in Wisconsin. In Wisconsin my father-in-law, Phil, has spent a lifetime developing and advocating for bike trails, orgainzing rides, leading tours, and writing, writing and writing about all things cycling. He is a cycling legend, honestly. For a long time I have wanted to ride one of his trails, like the "first of its kind" rail-to-trail Elroy Sparta State Trail. Riding that seems like something I could handle, and would pobably be more my pace than his wilder Fat Tire Tours, Chequamagon, or Milwaukee! Something very special happened recently, and Geoff and I are seriously looking forward to riding this very special trail being developed, and named in honor of Phil.
It makes me happy seeing more and more people out riding their bicycles, all ages, and abilities. I even joined a committee advocating and planning for cycling safety in the schools corridors of our community. We don't have a particularly safe, cyclist-respectful culture in San Diego County, and that needs to improve, a lot. It makes me happy thinking how much pleasure Alicia will take when she is out there, riding all over! I'd love to ride around Portland, Oregon, too. And if you are like me, hesitant, nervous, I hope you find something new, slightly thrilling, that you can try, and challenge yourself with, and then get more and more comfortable with, maybe even start to love. I am still working on the love part, myself. If I were a philanthropist, a benevolent queen of dreams, I would send bicycles to friends, and to their friends, and to you, and you. We could all be pedaling, sometimes assisted. We could be on tandems, or riding bikes that accomodate our needs, and everywhere there would be movements for more trails, more consideration and mindfulness about people on bikes, out there, pedaling all over... I would like this very much.