Riding for me was about corners taken to quickly, long skid marks, and gullies too steep for wheels. Later it was for getting home before curfew. Then it was for commuting and carrying pressed clothes in my panniers. Now I ride to take my son to day care.
But as a street photographer in Tokyo, my bicycle is my key to the city’s warren of lanes, pedestrian shopping streets, and neon corridors. Cycling lets me really see.
So riding is happening upon things hidden from drivers and passengers. But it is also stopping to talk to people. Riding is knowing where to find that special store. And it is getting caught in the warm rain of a foreign land. Riding is toned thighs and a better posture as forty rolls around.
I commute from Playa Del Rey to Santa Monica for college everyday, and its always the best 30 minutes. I ride because my bike is way nicer than my truck! Plus when it rains I look smart for having fenders in LA, and I get the bike path all to myself.
I live in a very populated area. Nevertheless I find great places to ride. Here is my unheralded and sometimes maligned Bridgestone X0-4 which on this day I am using to slip and slide through the woods on my way to a rail-trail and a new parkland mountain (for New Jersey) riding place that is being fashioned out of land surrounding abandoned evil county hospital buildings. I’ve had the bike about 15 years and it was for a long time my only bike. Now I use it on trails, forays into NYC, errands and whenever else I feel like it. I wanted it to be in the picture because I have a Sam on order and maybe I’m feeling a little guilty. I’m not like the Dutch whose relationship to bikes is strictly utilitarian. I ride because it puts me in a different consciousness that makes me happy.
Why I ride: There is something magical about climbing a mountain under your own power and seeing the expressions on peoples faces as you winch upward. Then there’s the reward of a mountain lake view near the top as you approach ten thousand feet. Or the reward of the ten miles of downhill. I’m still trying to figure out which part I like more… : )
This is a photo of my friend riding across Bixby Bridge last August during a bike tour down California’s central coast. Every summer, my friend, my brother and I go on a tour as a personal challenge, as well as to escape the stress and responsibility of our workaday lives. We all agreed that this stretch of coastline in Big Sur was by far the most breathtaking and memorable leg of any ride we’ve done so far. Despite contending with narrow shoulders, speeding cars, occasional flat tires, and schlepping 30+ pounds of extra gear up hills, the time spent alone with my thoughts while pedaling through such amazing natural beauty more than made up for these minor hardships. The freedom, joy and peace I experience during these annual cycling adventures is what helps me stay sane and centered throughout the rest of the year. This is why I ride.