Saturday, July 26, 2008

B.I.K.E. in the U.S.A.

The hotel in KC had bikes available for guest use, and we did so twice: once to go down to the Plaza to walk around (about a 10 minute ride) and once to go to the Nelson (about 20 minutes). It was one of pleasures of the trip, and the ability to ride a bike around is one of the pleasures of urban living generally - although of course most cities (including KC, and certainly Wichita) are not really equipped for bikes to be used as one of the major modes of transport.

It so happens that my folks brought their bikes to us this time, fairly aged Raleigh 3-speeds that (I kid you not) they rode maybe a couple of times in the (can it be 30+?) years they've had them. When they lived in Cape Cod about 10 years ago we visited and had the bikes worked on and then rode them a couple of times, then they went back into storage and probably haven't been ridden since. DW is not all that enthusiastic about them because the tires are narrow but free is better than not free. So we lugged them back to Wichita and put them in the shop for another reconditioning, this time including new (padded) seats - the originals were hard as heck!

They are essentially touring bikes and that's what I want them for, I don't expect to do much off-road but since I got here I've been wanting to ride to work. It's a distance of only approximately 2 miles - too far to walk, but it feels ridiculous to drive, especially with gas the way it is and the fact that I drive a big car. But of course, the roads between work and home are quite fear-inducing from a bicyclist's perspective. There's one possible alternative route, at least to work, that is a little longer but on not quite on as scary streets. Anyway, once the bikes are back I'm determined to give it a go.

It so happens that a couple of websites connected to this new interest of mine have come to my attention - one is the Cycling in Wichita blog, run by a fellow named John Buuse, and the other which I found through John is a Commuting by Bike blog. John says that Wichita is among the worst biking cities in the country.

I hope it will save gas and money. I hope it will get me some (much needed!) exercise. I hope I don't get killed. I bought a helmet. But bike-riding seems like one of those baseline things for simple living - a core principle, if you will. So I'm gonna try it.


Mary T said...

Thats so neat. Some of my co-workers bike to work. I live much too far--all highway too--but I do want to bike a bit. Only thing is I found when I tried a few weeks back that I do not have the physical steam to get up all the hills in my area. Part of my heart trouble I guess--but I am walking and swimming and trying to work my way to better stamina so I can bike.

John B. said...

First of all, I'm glad to learn you've decided to try bike-commuting. I think (and hope) you'll be pleased that you did.

Thanks for the link--it's much appreciated. I'm not Jewish (I'm Lutheran), but I must say that I'm intrigued by your blog's subject. I look forward to returning.

I've not read all your blog, but I did want to suggest, in case you haven't, that you read Walden by Thoreau. His book is precisely on the subject--the mindset, that is; it's not exactly a how-to book--of living simply. Over at the cycling blog, when I get a chance I want to do a post (or a dozen) on how the ideas in Walden mesh nicely with cycling as a lifestyle.

Sorry to ramble on so long. Be well, and safe travels on your staycation.