This “Why I Ride” comes from Annette, a lovely Lady in Portland, OR.
Long one: The question of why I ride struck me as especially difficult to explain while being soaked during this morning’s freezing commute. I’ll preface my answer by saying I’m not what people imagine when they think of Portland’s bicycle subculture: I’m really troubled by most descriptions of Cyclocross (that much bruising can’t be good for you), and accordingly I try not to appear like I do, so spandex is out. I didn’t know what fixies were until six months ago, and initially I didn’t believe the description because there’s no way a person would seriously want to ride one. It took me a while to not feel intimidated by having to figure out a safe route and the logistics required to be dry and civilized once reaching work. And I just got fenders installed yesterday. The thoughts crucial to getting me out of the apartment at six a.m. for my commute are that it’s actually faster than the bus, and it’s a legit reason not to go to the gym. I repeat that over and over to myself while I put my shoes on. What really surprises me is how much I love it once I’m on my way – after the first hill, when I’ve exerted myself enough to no longer be freezing. At that point the rain is refreshing and the air is the cleanest I’ve ever breathed. I cross the Hawthorne Bridge along with a surprising number of other cyclists (even on a morning like this I was 175th!) and runners. It’s wonderful to feel a part of something like that – a feeling I’ve never experienced in a public space anywhere else I’ve lived (FL, MA, NY, DC, AZ, Colombia). Once I get to work, there’s a startling difference in the level of vibrancy in the morning between those who arrive by bicycle versus car or bus. And that, paired with coffee, feeds in to my alertness and ability to perform at work. All of that combined is why I ride.
What an eloquent and authentic response, Annette! The time after that first hill, when your body takes to the experience of being in motion, and the feeling of connection to your surroundings and community are exactly what keep this Lady and so many others getting up early, facing a plethora of weather anomalies (along with expected seasonal changes), and living life atop two wheels every. single. day.
And her description of fumbling through the logistics of commuting when you’re just starting out? Spot on! This Lady didn’t even know what “clips” or “fenders” were when starting out.
Thanks for the story and photo, Annette!
Keep riding, smiling, and rediscovering your commute and community each day!