Monkey Martian has some neat things in his May 2 post on bike transportation developments. I especially like the Complete the Streets idea of designing roads to include car, bike and pedestrian traffic all at the same time, so that people will have a very real choice regarding which manner of transit they prefer to take.
A while back I posted some thoughts about the hidden moments of cycling. In a similar vein here are some cycling moments I’m rediscovering now that I’m a) riding again (as opposed to taking full-on public transit through the end of the winter) b) riding my road-bike commuter to work (rather than the Hybrid I used in the early winter) c) enjoying legitimately pleasant riding weather, with the sun breaking around 6:00a.m.
Moments and sensations I’m rediscovering
- The bike shove. So let’s say that you’re at a red light. It turns green. You grip the hoods and stand up on the pedals as you churn through the intersection, and after you’ve gained momentum you shove –with some part of your body – the bike forward a little bit so that your butt ends up on the seat and your hands move from hoods to bar. Anyone know what I mean here? I don’t feel like I’M moving back on the bike, I feel like I’ve remained (mostly) motionless and have just somehow punted the bike forward a bit so that my hands and butt fall where I want them to.
- The leg groan. When you carry the bike out of your apartment building, get on, take a pedal stroke or two and your cold, uninspired legs say “what the heck are you doing?” but you continue on, build a bit of speed, and your legs, quickly finding their own cycling memory, say “oh yeah! This! Cool – hey let’s go catch that Hummer.”
- Being cool. Yeah, I’ll admit it. In good weather, when you don’t need big thick pants, boots, balaclava etc, and are wearing shades, tight fitting top, cycling shoes, and you’re zipping along roads in the suburbs with your legs churning out the miles below you, I feel cool. What kind of “cool” is it though? It’s not 80’s Judd Nelson cool, and it’s not 2006 Weakerthans cool. It’s not even 1974 Eddy Merckx cool or 2002 Mario Cipollini cool. It’s more like Grungy bike courier / Broken Social Scene cool. "Get that car away from me man! I'm trying to ride a bike here!"
- The coolness (yes again) of the average joe-commuter’s mini-mountain attack. This is when you’re rolling along and the road slopes up just ahead and you don’t want to lose momentum so you grab the hoods and stand up on the pedals and drive your way into and up the little hill like Pantani in 1998 deciding he wanted to lay some hurt on le Peyresourde. The coolness lies simply in the form of it – because basically it’s “attack” position, and you know it, and you know that no one who has just passed you in their car and simply pressed their foot on the gas a little bit more to climb the slope will ever know how the “attack” position feels on a bike.
- Simply being a cyclist again. When I was using full public transit I was leaving the house in jeans, some kind of coat, a baseball cap, and kind of a one strap messenger bag thing. Now I’m leaving with a helmet on my head, cycling shoes, backpack, and appropriate for the temperature cycling gear. I find it very different from a “perception of self’ perspective. As soldiers refer to the general populace as “civilians”, I kind of think of myself as a “civilian” when I’m in jeans and a baseball cap. I’m an ordinary guy doing the normal everyday thing. When I’m in my cycling gear I’m something else – I’m fighting for something – for the right to be on the street, and I’m fighting the great battle – especially in Durham – to show all these motorists that bikes belong, that they work for long distance travel, and that they’re the better way to go.
P.S. although this story comes from the Toronto Star's Wheels section (which I find generally repugnant), I thought the first few paragraphs were funny:
The U.S. Department of Defence last year released a satellite image of the Korean peninsula at night. The picture shows South Korea ablaze with light, a milky way radiating from the heart of its capital city, Seoul.
North Korea, on the other hand, sits in utter darkness, aside from a dim glow around Pyongyang. Whatever else you can say about North Korea's Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il is doing more to prevent global warming than any other person on Earth.