Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Two Wheeled Joy

I know that car ads tell us that the automobile will bring us freedom and independence and, to some extent, this is true. But I have found even more freedom and independence recently from the humble bicycle.

Not coincidentally, I attended a recent workshop production of a show about bicycles wherein the performer, Evalyn Parry, presents the audience with stories and songs about the evolution of the bike. Part of the bicycle's history is connected to the women's movement and how it changed us and our attire.

Evalyn and her historical sisters equate riding a bicycle to being free of the constraints of patriarchy and consumerism. Yesterday, I felt that equation most deeply.

As a traveler, I am at the mercy of public transportation and taxis. This is fine, I do well with it and I get to where I need to go. But "at the mercy" means I have to follow bus schedules and wait for cabs and leave extra early for events and do a lot of planning. It's not horrible, it's just energy- and time-consuming.

At the bike show the other night I ran into a friend who works at a fantastic bike shop here in Toronto. They rent bikes and he was adamant about setting me up with a bicycle for the rest of my trip.

The next day I went into the store and he did just that. I am now riding around on a Batavus Bicycle, AKA a "Dutch Bike" and though a heavier bike than most it is a sturdy and safe ride, which sits the rider fully upright. Straight back, legs pumping jauntily, I feel like Mary Poppins with a helmet.

I am now able to leave when I need to leave, get to where I am going for free, and whiz by taxis sitting in traffic. I am free. I am outdoors in the fresh air, getting exercise, enjoying the sights. It's marvelous.

Best of all, I ran into a friend from junior high in the bike shop and we got to reminisce and catch up while our bikes were being serviced. Hail to Curbside Cycle!

Inspiring Message of the Day: Looking for a feeling of freedom and independence? Go for a bike ride!

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