Ode to the Bicycle

I find it particular that I’ve yet to write an article specifically about the love of my life. I’m referring to a

This was the first bicycle I took seriously. It was
a 1984 Free Spirit 10-speed (classic Sears variety).
I bought it for  25 dollars at a Hialeah thrift store and
put very many miles on it. I experimented on it
a lot also, and eventually it suffered repairable but
prohibitively expensive damage to
the front fork. A beautiful bicycle that I’ll never forget.

My current (and heretofore most expensive) rider: a 1982
Peugeot P18 Mixte frame w/700c x 28 tires, 10 speeds and
an extended length rear rack, with very many accessories.

My 1980s Sun Miami and Huffy Sea Trails cruisers
in storage, little before they were sold to a collector.

My 1980s Sun Miami cruiser at its finest stage, with
a roomy rear rack/basket, dual rearview mirrors and
newly installed 26″ tires. 

component of my life that’s been with me through thick and thin; that with the exception of a few bumps along the road, has always felt the same, smelled the same, looked the same … essentially, it’s remained beautiful in its permanence.

I’m referring to the bicycle. Never have I ever been so taken by the beauty and appeal of something as the day I went on my first serious bike ride, atop a boys’ BMX bike that was way too small for my thirteen-year-old self at the time.

I recall having to raise the seatpost height beyond the “minimum insertion” mark. I recall the hard as a rock saddle that I had to stand for half an hour, whose attached fabric only made things worse as it rubbed against the seams in my shorts. I recall the constant clanking of the crank arms, which hadn’t been tightened since the bicycle left the factory years prior to that ride.

I also recall getting a flat tire three-quarters of the way to my destination, which left me no recourse but to walk the remaining distance.

But most of all, I recall that beautiful sense of independence as I sped off my block and onto the city streets. With every thrust downward, I felt like I was entering increasingly higher levels of aesthetic, of beauty, of art.

That fascination has endured until today, and will very likely continue to endure for a very long time. The fact that I’ve gone nearly everywhere I’ve ever had to go either solely by bicycle, or by a combination of bicycle and mass transit, is a testament to not only my appreciation of the vehicle, but also to the power the vehicle has.

When a proper fit is ensured between a cyclist and his bicycle – proper saddle height and type, proper handlebar reach, proper stem height, comfortable gearing, proper tire inflation, and proper accessories as needed – the power that can be exuded from the two-wheeler is tremendous…

For me, though, it generally hasn’t been about speed. Speed is not the reason why I ride a bicycle. Instead, I ride for efficiency. I ride because I like to be in a situation where I’m getting somewhere by the most efficient way possible. Half the time – even considering time constraints – a bicycle is the best way to get there. No energy is expended save for your own, which is easily rechargeable by sleeping, eating or drinking water. 

How’s that for being efficient?
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