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:
- 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.
- 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...
- 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.
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.