I used to have a bright orange Columbia ten-speed.
I loved it dearly.
I rode my bike to my friends’ houses. I rode bike to houses of girls I wished were my girlfriends. I rode my bike to the store. I rode my bike simply because I loved to ride my bike. I was too young to drive, but I didn’t care.
There’s something about arriving somewhere after toiling hard to make the trip. You feel more like you deserve to be where you are. Arriving under your own power makes you feel powerful. Self-sufficient. Strong. Athletic.
One day, while I was in school, some despicable, bolt-cutter wielding thief stole my bright-orange, Columbia ten-speed in broad daylight off the bike rack directly outside the principal’s office window at North Syracuse High School.
I got another bike.
* * *
One thing I don’t like about living in the “country” is there’s no safe place to ride a bike. Every year I hear about some bike-riding local getting creamed by a passing rock truck.
In the city, there may be tons of traffic, but there are plenty of sidewalks and bike lanes. Gainesville has a sign as you approach it on 441 southbound saying “Welcome to Gainesville. A bike-friendly city.”
But something happens to me now whenever I see someone on a bike. My mind travels down an unfriendly highway of gloomy thoughts:
I think of the current economic recession. I ponder the dismal future of fossil fuel. I consider the fact that any crazy thing can happen any crazy time, Armageddon included. Seeing bike riders these days makes me feel lousy, because I’m not one of them.
I see a guy (or a woman) on a bike now and I think, “He (or she) knows something I don’t. They’re ready for the Apocalypse. They’re taking matters into their own hands. They’re healthy, resourceful and self-sufficient. They’ll be ready when Civilization As We Know It crumbles and the rest of us ostriches with our heads in Middle Eastern sand and our cold, dying fingers stubbornly clutching our steering wheels have nosedived toward unnecessary extinction.”
Along with a few other things I’d like to do now, such as gardening, I’d like to get a bike (along with a full suit of armor). I don’t even care if it’s not orange. And if whoever stole my Columbia is reading this; I hope you become a Hare Krishna. That\’ll fix you.