All of my fondest memories of childhood involve riding a bicycle.
I can remember my British babysitter teaching me to ride–after many unsuccessful attempts with my dad as the instructor. She walked me and my pink bike, tassels blowing in the wind, to an empty parking lot where she patiently helped me overcome my fear, find my balance and–triumphantly–ride on my own.
Biking opened up a new world for me. I could explore further, visit more friends and chase the ice cream truck with confidence. It was glorious.
Later, when we moved back to the States, I’d ride around with my dad. My brother would slowly tag along with his little legs and training wheels, shouting “Wait for me.” Which we did. Usually.
I don’t quite remember when or why I stopped riding a bike. It must have been during high school, that age when we become aware of the status symbol of cars. My memories of cars are not fond. They mostly involve hand-me down autos and headaches. My first car shook violently when it exceeded a certain speed. My second one had no shocks. It’s no wonder I never latched onto the whole automobile craze.
Around the age of 26, I decided that I definitely did not like driving. At 28, I restricted my driving to 2 – 3 days a week, which my 10-year-old Dodge Stratus did not appreciate very much: I seemed to have more breakdowns the less I drove. Crazy. So, when I moved to Chicago, the decision not to bring my car was an easy one.
But this isn’t about cars, it’s about bikes. My last two years in Atlanta, I had started biking around the city. Instantly, I remembered everything I loved about riding a bike. The freedom. The mobility. The stupid smile that takes over your face on a sunny day. But now, as an adult, there were new reasons to love biking: the efficiency of not being stuck in traffic, the counter-culture statement, the exercise. Not to mention the money saved. I was hooked.
If Atlanta taught me to reconnect with my inner-bike-loving-child, Chicago taught me to be a badass biker. Cycling in Chicago is exhilarating. And yet, I realize the feelings I’ve shared here still don’t capture the reason I choose two-wheels as my mode of transportation. Cycling has changed the way I see the world…