I don’t know if I told you this already, but I got a bike! I got a bike! For real! I might be a little excited about it.
How this happened
For years I put off acquiring a bicycle. It seemed like a really good idea, and lots of people I knew were really into cycling, and it would be easier on this one bad knee than running for exercise, and I was getting really tired of driving half a mile on errands when I was in a hurry because walking was taking too long. My best friend (henceforth known as “Dr”) has this thing where we make lists of “wants and needs.” She’s pretty clear on including things you want, not just things you need. My list included things like “I need a lot more silverware because I’m tired of running out of clean spoons all the time” and “I want the entire back catalog of Bikini Kill because I missed Riot Grrl punk the first time it came around.” When Christmas came around, we were invited to the new suburban home of my Future Ex (long story there) and The Smartest Guy I Know. Great fun and food was had, and someone brought chocolate, and I brought a microwave for Dr because she needs one and it was on her list. The event was all kinds of awesome. Among other things, Dr brought me a big pile of forks and knives and spoons; an original Sleater-Kinney CD; and an envelope with two shiny new $20 bills in it. Along with a note that said she was going to buy a gift certificate for Joy Machines but the shop was already closed so I had to play along and spend the forty bucks on a new bike. I sat on that for quite a few months, but finally I walked over to Fridrich’s (because I’m old school that way) and bought a bike! A red bike! It’s amazing! It’s the best thing ever! It cost a bit more than forty dollars but I’m okay with that. (Dr says I’m five years old now. Whatever.)
What it’s like
Okay, I’ve had this thing about three weeks and I think I last put gas in my car a month ago. And there’s still a third of a tank left. I just don’t drive anywhere I don’t absolutely have to. Getting on the bike is cheaper! It’s exercise! It’s getting out and seeing my friends! It’s being in the weather! It’s easy to park at the West Side Market, even on Saturdays! It’s like zero carbon! I am having absolutely the best time ever with this.
The Social Ride
Turns out, Cleveland has a pretty intense cycling culture. I think it’s because we’re dense enough that you can realistically bike to a lot of things but not dense enough to make walking and subways very practical. Whatever the reason, people do turn out for the Insomnia Ride (random late nights), Critical Mass (fourth Fridays downtown), and the Slow Roll (most Mondays). There’s even a group that goes from Westlake to Lorain for ice cream on Wednesdays. You can’t go wrong.
For me, though, the best thing is simply being able to go anywhere without caring much about the RTA schedules and not stressing about blowing carbon unnecessarily. Instead of driving to Dave’s Supermarket (about 2/3 of a mile) and thinking “geez, how wasteful” I can bike there and think “what a nice break!” It’s especially nice that every RTA bus has bike racks for two, and it’s easy to roll a bike onto the Red Line. (The Green and Blue are actually kind of inconvenient because the trains have a rather tight stairwell.) It’s not uncommon for me to catch the Red Line at the West 65th stop and get off at West Park or West 117th. (Most Red Line stations have elevators in case you don’t feel like hauling a cycle up steps too.) So, this is kind of my thing now. I feel like cycling anywhere is “free” and fun. I think I’ll use my new lights and take a lap around the neighborhood right now!