I remember my first bike; well my first one as an adult. It was a Diamondback, it had a dark color with a gold/champagne chrome finish to it. My sister brought it to my meager apartment as a gift. She even had a U-lock. I’ll never forget it, as foreign as it seemed. I had no car. I had been taking the TARC. My car had been totaled a while back, irreplaceable. Me, a college student, with little to no money, was not about to even search for a new one. But here it was, a bike; a vehicle really.
I said thanks, bewildered.
That Diamondback set up against the wall in my tiny apartment for several months. My cat used the seat as a scratching post.
I was in Speech101 class when I read one of the examples: riding a bike versus taking public transit; an argumentative speech. Biking is faster than public transit, the example stated (simple, huh?). It got me wondering. I was ready to start experimenting. The university campus was a mere three miles away although I didn’t know that then. Google maps was just a dream and I didn’t even have the internet at my apartment. I just knew it wasn’t too far; it was manageable.
I began without a helmet, in jeans. I definitely didn’t have money for a helmet and my pride was too big for one too. I rode, clinging to the parked cars, not really in a lane, scared out of my mind. I remember getting almost there, about two miles, not so bad, but I was sweating, bad. Me, the non athlete and a pothead to boot, let’s say I didn’t exercise much. However, I made that final mile with relief, locked the bike at one of the few racks on campus, and walked to class with time to spare.
Eight years ago began my commuting career.
I’m not your average cyclist. I don’t race. I don’t do tours. I don’t do extreme dirt bikes. I don’t wear spandex.
I wear jeans.
What can I say, I’m an American.