Sunday, March 16, 2008

Why Bike Transportation? Reason #1

Reason #10 – "Unrighteous Pride"
Reason #9 - The Environment
Reason #8 – Sense of Achievement
Reason #7 - Social Responsibility / Conservation
Reason #6 - A Feast for the Senses
Reason #5 - Independence and Self-Reliance
Reason #4 - Exercise and Physical Health
Reason #3 - Stress Relief / Mental Health
Reason #2 - Economy

Reason #1 - (Drum roll... ... ...) FUN!!

Let's begin with some vocabulary.

Fun: (Pronunciation: 'f&n) (Hey - that's what it says on the Websters, okay?)
1. what provides amusement or enjoyment; specifically: playful often boisterous action...
2. a mood for finding or making amusement

Joy: (Pronunciation: 'joi)
1. the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires
2. a state of happiness or felicity
3. a source or cause of delight

"Fun" is here one minute, gone the next. By contrast, "joy" is residual.

Do you remember your first bike?

I remember vividly. Christmas morning. Santa was so good to me that year. There it was, shiny and new, gleaming red and white and chrome in the light cast by 200 multicolor bulbs. It was a "cruiser" style, which was pretty much the only style of kid-bike in the era. 20-inch wheels, smaller training wheels. (It's long gone, unfortunately. I wish I still had it. It looked a lot like the one in the illustration, only a size or two larger.)

I was probably 6 years old - and I was giddy! [Giddy: joyfully elated] The presents under the tree could wait...

There was snow on the ground that Christmas. (I'm giving away my age... but it was before Global Warming!) As soon as I was able to scrape an oval path, I was out there in pajamas and slippers, shivering but not noticing, tipping from side to side on the training wheels.

Do you remember the day the training wheels came off?

I remember. Dad, trotting along and pushing me down our oiled-dirt road, his reassuring hand and presence at my side. He probably spent an hour doing that, before letting go... I wasn't confident.

Then he let go, but continued to trot alongside.

I didn't tip over. I kept going! Tenuously at first... but then I rode away from him. Warm breeze in my beaming face.

Fun? They could've put my picture in the dictionary, to illustrate fun!

(NOTE: If a child you care about is bike-learning age, click HERE.)

The following weeks, even years, were accompanied by the occasional bout of road rash, huffin' and puffin' up hills, etc. (We lived on a "foothill," right here in Boise, so there were few flat riding places unless I was willing to ride a mile to get there. And riding down the hill meant riding back up later.) But bandages on knees or elbows, and huffin' and puffin' were a small price to pay for that joy.

When the weather was nice, Mom frequently let me ride to school. It was quite common in those days; I'd park my shiny bike in the row with maybe 100 others... none as beautiful as mine, of course.

I outgrew that bike. I remember others - an "English 3-speed" that I wasn't quite big enough for, and never really grew attached to. A shiny purple Schwinn Varsity "ten speed." I loved that bike! (It got stolen from out front of East Junior High... devastated me. I never realized how heavy it was, until years later.) A Schwinn Sting-Ray for a couple years. (The BMX bike of its era.) A sweet Motobecane "Grand Touring" - shiny red, like my first bike. Fond memories - joyful memories - with each one.

(It was cool but not "joyful" to take driver training and get my license. Maybe if Dad had that Porsche I was always lusting after, I would have felt more joy. The '60 Rambler American was a little anticlimactic, as was Mom's Plymouth station wagon. But sitting in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic, it would be a stretch to describe even the Turbo Carrera as "fun.")

Face it - bicycling is FUN!

Lots of adults forget how fun it is. (Being an adult sucks in many ways. Mom gave me a sweat shirt a few years back - it says, "You can only be young once, but you can be immature forever." I believe she was trying to make a statement.)

Other adults remember how fun bicycling is. They ride their fun bikes in the foothills, or along the Greenbelt. They even go on "fun bicycle vacations" to Moab, or to ride through the tunnels and over the trestles in northern Idaho (awesome!), or bike-tour along the Oregon Coast. Then they come back home, hang the bike up in the garage, and start driving to work again.

What's with that?

(They make up the lamest excuses for why they choose to drive that gas-guzzling iron pig every day, and pay all that money, and sit in traffic... Hanging up the bike makes you grow old faster, I'm convinced of it!)

Bicycling is FUN!

I usually take the "direct route" to work, because I'm usually in a hurry. But I rarely ride the same route going home.

It's fun to take the more-scenic route.

It's fun to run over a squashed aluminum can in the road, just to hear the "click click" it makes.

It's fun - in a slightly-wicked way - to ride past a LONG row of idling cars at rush hour on Chinden, or Emerald. (Hee-hee-hee!)

It's fun and satisfying when some guy goes by in his "Bigfoot wanna-be" pickup truck, to think, "I could do whe he's doing, but he couldn't do what I'm doing."

It's way fun to have a strong tailwind, making you feel like Lance Armstrong or Jeannie Longo! And on a really unpleasant day, it's fun to get to your destination!

Back to the vocabulary.

FUN - is the passing amusement I feel 'most every time I'm perched on that saddle. JOY - is the lasting satisfaction evoked by years and years of fun bike rides, and the health benefits and true independence that bicycle transportation provides.

Bicycling is FUN! (Oh - and JOYFUL, too!) That's the absolute no-doubt number-one chisel-it-in-stone reason I've been enjoying it for close to 50 years. And I don't expect that to change any time soon.

The end.

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