Today, while riding my bike home from downtown, a woman said, as she passed me, “You look very peaceful!” And in the proverbial split second, I realized it was true and said back to her, “I am that.” And it made my day to be perceived as ‘peaceful’ on a slow bike and not just ‘slow’ – my realization that I was/am actually peaceful is just a bonus.
When I ride my bike, I like to pretend I still live in Berlin (or anywhere else in Europe, for that matter), where riding a bike is not seen as a trendy, green, necessary way to get somewhere as quickly as possible, but rather as a pastime, a meditation, a real means of transportation. I don’t like to ride fast. I could be like all the other speedy bikers that pass me and get there fast, but I don’t want to ride fast. I want to enjoy the ride, the scenery. There’s a reason I choose the most beautiful, scenic route to work. There’s a reason I ride through the cemetery each morning, slowly, looking at the names on the tombstones, enjoying the peace and quiet. There’s a reason I don’t dress like an alien to ride my bike – the bike shorts, space-age helmet, wild, bright zipper bike shirt, weird bike shoes.
Everyone passes me – old ladies, children, guys on skateboards – b/c I was built for comfort and not speed and have only, in my several years of riding my bike to work as many days a year as I can, passed 4 people on my bike. I know it is only four people, b/c it so very rarely happens. Three of them were cruiser bikes and one young guy was pulling a very obviously heavy trailer. I pulled up next to him at the stop light to say hello, instead of lining up behind him like I’m supposed to. We exchanged “good mornings”. And then he asked if I wanted to race, that he thought that was the reason I pulled up next to him. He asked if I was planning on revving my engine, and he mimed the downward twist on his right bike grip – like a motorcycle accelerator. We laughed.
I am in really good shape. I work out in some form every day, b/c it heals me to do so – b/c it makes me happy. I could be like the other, type-A, American, have to get there as quickly as possible so I can then be stressed out there too, or have to pump as hard as possible to work off that extra piece of cake, people. I have the physical ability to go fast. I just don’t want to. I want to continue to enjoy my ride – enjoy the scenery, the air, the sunlight through the trees, the ‘biking’ part of biking.