Your Bike Will Wait For You [From 43-300]

Best of Boneshaker Archive

"The spirit of cycling will wait for you—until you climb back in the saddle. And once you’re there, it’ll seem like you never even coasted to a stop."

from BA 43-300

You begin to feel like a stranger at a party. It’s as though the music and conversation have been turned down. You can hear your thoughts wander, feel your attention drift. That’s you in the corner, losing your religion.

Perhaps it was an accident, big or little, that shook loose the nuts and bolts of a once-sturdy faith, a once-solid commitment to your two-wheeled better half. Perhaps it was the accumulation of rain and mud in your patched rain boots, the wearing-thin of your tolerance for ill-fitting or makeshift gear. Perhaps it was basic economics, the diminishing returns of a long, soggy commute in the dark after a long workweek.

Whatever it was, you suddenly realize you’re traveling often by foot or car. When you do get on your bike, you’re no longer accompanied by a sense of social or moral responsibility, or whatever it was that once surrounded you like a cushy cloud. You realize the cloud has been thinning for a long while now, along with the last wisp of hope for a utopian future where cars and bikes and pedestrians all happily coexist.

Cars are big, massive machines. They can and do kill people, cyclists, all the time, in an instant. In a moment, everything can change—even if you’re the safest rider around. Friends and fellows tell you it’s just part of the ride. Yes, the accidents and near-accidents. Yes, even the inattentive drivers spewing emotional baggage from their roof racks. Yes, the cracked rain fenders and the inexplicably-frequent flat tires and squeaky bottom brackets—especially the flat tires.

So take a rest. Take the bus. Take a trip somewhere outside the city. At some point we probably, for our own health, must loosen up our binary thought processes and realize that just because we don’t take our bikes every single time, we haven’t let anyone down, not even ourselves. No one ever said that because you believe in cycling you’re not allowed to believe in anything else. And that’s the beauty of it—cycling will always be there, is open to your doing other things.

When it’s time to ride again, you’ll ride. Bicycling is part of you, and always will be, which is probably why you’re reading this. When it’s just you and your bike, the math is pretty simple: bike + rider + safe road = pleasure. And as long as you’re in reasonably good health and the weather’s reasonably fair and your bike hasn’t rusted into oblivion in a field behind your house, the possibility of renewed faith is there. The spirit of cycling will wait for you—in your wire basket or under the dome of your silver bell—until you climb back in the saddle. And once you’re there, we swear to you it will seem like you never even coasted to a stop.

Evan P. Schneider