Sunday, January 13, 2013


Ever notice what happens when you ask someone about riding their bike? A smile starts to creep over their face, and it's like they are suddenly back on the bike, mid conversation.

When bike riding comes up in conversation, I like to sit back and listen. Hearing the way people describe their experiences riding a bike has become one way that I have begun to quietly, secretly elevate the role of the bike in daily life. Riding a bike to get around is not very common in this part of the country - the rural South. People may roll out their two wheels on the weekend on local trails or to get a good workout in, but their are far fewer who bike to get around. And I'm hoping to change that by changing the conversation.

When folks find out that I get around by bike, they look at me, and one of three things usually happens:
  1. They look at me like I'm crazy. It usually gets all quiet, and they mumble something about me being crazy. My response:  A little smile and shrug of the shoulders. They'll come around eventually.

  2. A smile comes over their face. They talk about how that's pretty cool. And then there's the explanation of why they can't or don't. My response:  I tell them that not everyone has to ride a bike every day or for the same reason. I encourage them to ride when they can.    Or...

  3. They delve into a story about riding in a past part of their life, and they're off into a reminiscent story-telling mode. I love this story-telling mode. My response:  I just sit back and let them go.
They talk about how it started, the way it made them feel, typically with words like "freedom" and "fun." They also talk about the good of shape that they were in. The type of bike they rode. Then there's the the reason why they stopped:  they moved, got a job, got a car, had a family. All good reasons why life changes change life. However, after some adjustment period of weeks, months or years, I encourage everyone to get back on, no matter when they rode last. (Or if it's their first time!)

Next time a conversation about bike riding comes up, stay quiet and listen. There's a lot to learn about the local bike culture. It could help you figure out important points to talk to or rally around. And, you'll make some great friends.

No comments:

Post a Comment