It’s All About the Bike

I had a really good friend a bunch of years ago who said, “There are two types of people, those who get Bike Religion, and those who don’t.”

I get it.

Today was the first day since 1998 that I took a solo bike ride.  I remember the last one.  Tim was recovering from his accident, we had just come back from visiting Howie and Jerry in Virginia, and I had illusions of riding the DC AIDS ride with them the following year.  So I started training, even though Tim wasn’t yet able to join me.

Then we moved to Florida, which I thought would be great for biking, but who know Tim’s accident would leave me with a form of PTSD, and I would be deathly afraid of cars?  That’s a story for another time.  Today I want to talk about something else.

When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, there were a number of means of transportation.  There was the bus, there was the subway (actually, the el), there were your feet and there was the bike.  Trains and buses cost money, and walking was both tiring and tiresome (to me), but the bike….oh the bike.

From the time I was allowed to ride in the street (not on the sidewalk), the borough was my oyster!  I rode everywhere.  Up and down the avenues, across the side streets, reveling in the freedom that having my own means of transportation gave me.  There was nothing like wind in my hair and the knowledge that if I angled my arms correctly, I could force the wind up the sleeves of my tee shirt and right down my back.

I rode south on the bike path to Brighton Beach, I rode north to Prospect Park.  If I rode out to Sheepshead Bay, I could pick up the bike path that rode along the Belt Parkway turn right at Flatbush Avenue and go over the Gil Hodges (then the Marine Parkway) Bridge, which would take me out to Breezy Point and Rockaway.  If I rode to Bay Parkway, I could get the bike path in the other direction and take it under the Verranzano Narrows Bridge and go out to Bay Ridge.  That’s a tremendous amount of ground to cover.

I did most of this alone.  For some reason, being out on bike was never lonely.  I was an explorer finding new turf.

Then I grew up.  I learned to drive and the bike got put away.  I tried to revive it for a while after college, but my first husband didn’t have bike religion.  It wasn’t until we split up that I began to ride again….and again, I rode alone.

Then I met Tim.  Tim had Bike Religion.  We rode together.  I got to show him all my favorite places.  We rode out to Breezy Point, and then turned around and rode all the way out the Rockaway Peninsula, over the Atlantic Beach bridge and onward to Long Beach.  We regularly rode around Prospect Park, or up to Brooklyn Heights, or over the Brooklyn Bridge into lower Manhattan and up the West Side to Chelsea Pier.  My bike felt as much a part of my body as my feet or arms did.

Then the bad stuff happened.  Tim’s accident, the move to Florida.  I tried to return to the fold when we moved the Schenectady, after all 40 miles of bike path along the Mohawk was a big part of the reason we moved to the Capital District, but something had changed.  I lost something, a part of me that was free to worship at the altar of Bicycle.

Fibromyalgia happened.  Among many things that it robbed me of, was my ability to get on my bike for the first time in a season and ride, get sore, recover and ride some more.  Riding stopped being fun, and started being about getting back to where I was, physically, that last halcyon summer before The Accident.

Lately I’ve been hearing the siren song of The Bike.  I’ve been aching to feel the wind in my face.  Feel the oneness of me and the bike, the ability to inwardly sneer smugly at the runners who are plodding by on two feet, while I whiz by on wheels.  And of course, Tim wanted to ride with me.  But I knew I had to do it the way I started.  Alone.

Today, I put the bike on the rack and drove down to the bottom of the hill.  Mama didn’t raise no fools, and I knew riding up the hill from River Road at the end of a ride was going to be more than I was going to be able, or willing, to do.  So I drove the 1/2 mile down the hill.  Got on my bike, and where I was expecting a few minutes of panic or, at the very least uneasiness, for the first couple of seconds, I am thrilled to report there was none of that.

I got to, again, experience the union of me, The Bike, and the road (or, in this case the bike path).  I rode for 3 miles round trip.  I got off hot, sweaty and exhilarated with rubbery legs and out of breath.  And it was GREAT!!!!!

Now for a shower and yoga.

More on that tomorrow.  (Oh, and remind me to talk about the Kombucha)

Oh, and if you chance to read this…please leave a comment and say hello.  I’m getting kinda lonely talking to myself.


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3 comments to It’s All About the Bike

  • Hi!
    I absolutely love this post! I also feel like I could have totally written it myself (minus the personal points). Only for me it was Westchester as a child and the fibro kicked in when I was in college (though I had no clue it was fibro at the time). I just bought myself a new bike almost 2 weeks ago and I LOVE it! Best thing I’ve done in a LONG time. Hope you keep at it and share some more….Happy Riding!

  • Hi! Your blog is in my reader (Google Reader) and yes, I do get Bike Religion! Last year DH bought me an upgrade from my 5-yr-old Jamis Coda Sport, and I got a Cannondale T2 (touring frame) which has a rack and panniers. I need to ride more often, in fact, especially with gas prices still climbing. I would love to do a coast-to-coast tour at some point; it’s on my bucket list, anyway. Congrats on your ride!

  • Melissa

    I once had Bike Religion too, but I lost it about the time I learned to drive. Perhaps I should take it up again. I’m glad you are starting anew on the bike! 🙂