I’ve ridden bicycles nearly my entire life. I started early, and unlike most people, when the time came to get interested in cars and “put away childish things”, I never lost interest in bikes. Here I am, many years later, and though my priorities have changed, bicycles still hold a special place in my heart and mind.
I grew up in a small town. To me and my ragtag troop, bikes represented freedom and joy. Year in and year out, we rode all over the countryside, riding wheelies, jumping through drainage ditches, riding no-handed with a Snickers bar in one hand and a Dr. Pepper in the other, just traveling and looking for adventure wherever the bicycle took us.
As a young adult, club riding and racing became my primary focus. Bicycles became a way to sow my competitive oats while spending time with friends and meeting new people. They became more of a vehicle for socialization than a vehicle to get somewhere or accomplish something concrete. In other words, they became a piece of gear—a “sporting good” if you will—rather than a tool or a mode of transportation.
Finally, I’ve come full circle to a point where bicycles are once again about freedom, independence, and transportation. As well as being a way to get around, for me, bicycles also represent the freedom associated with self-reliance, individuality, and sustainability. They get me out of the car and off of the freeways while saving me a significant amount of money. They maximize the usefulness of my commute by providing exercise and mental refreshment. They provide a sense of satisfaction that can only be obtained by getting around purely on my own physical efforts.
Through all of this, I’ve had a love affair with bicycles as works of art and craft. Their simple elegance and unrivaled efficiency have always amazed me. There’s still nothing quite like the subtle curvature of a well-designed handlebar, or the geometric patterns created by a spoked wheel juxtaposed against a handmade diamond frame. After all these years, bicycles still spark my imagination more than any other man-made object, and they continue to be intertwined in the fabric of my daily life.