And then there were two (wheels, that is...)

I've been working on a story for next week about the popularity of bicycle commuting in the wake of high fuel prices. As a recent convert, it's been a lot of fun to work on. I've been trying my best to ride everyday (as valiant as this sounds, consider that I live about a mile and a half away from work, benefit from the impeccable weather, and have virtually no incline on my way there) Baby steps, people! Baby steps.

I'm not sure I really understood what bicycling was all about until I moved to California. I moved here from Bowling Green, Kentucky, a perfect little southern town, with an infrastructure to match its residents: mostly farmers who drive large, diesel trucks. It's the culture and the way of life. Unfortunately, it left most of Bowling Green's residential streets like freeways - most of which didn't even have SIDEWALKS, much less bike paths. Someone told me that this is because much of BG's transport system was built in the 60s, when cars were "the way of the future." Needless to say, if I had tried to live a car-free lifestyle in Bowling Green, it would've been nearly impossible. Not impossible, but definitely dangerous.

So, when I came to California and heard about people living without cars, I was intrigued. But mostly skeptical. But after a few months of paying what seemed like a fortune then ($3.50 per gallon! Those were the days!), I wanted to branch out. Here, the bike lanes are plentiful, the weather gorgeous, and the drivers are at least semi-conscious of the fact that they might be sharing a lane with a scooter or bicycle. So, I moved closer to my work and bought a bike, which I love. It is truly humble. Purchased from a German exchange student at UCSB who was going home for the fall, I got a blue Huffy Superia (slightly rusty) for fifty dollars.

Eager to try out my new mode of transport, I hit the pavement. And it was grand. Knowing I was getting in shape, saving money, and helping preserve more of the world's resources was exhilirating. Dodging the cars and hefty buses drifting into the bike lane occasionally was also fun. I was riding high. And then a dark cloud settled over my morning trek. I began to notice that my little lane was being invaded by dudes on faster, lighter bikes with skinnier wheels than my Superia had. They had on funny spandex outfits, dark, ominous sunglasses hiding their gaze, and more gadgets than the Rescue Rangers. They seldom said hello as they passed, and left me in their wake, with my pathetic cadence, only to watch their gigantic calves pedal off into the sunset.

Usually, they look like this.

Frightening, I know. Many times after these encounters, I second guess myself. The self-loathing begins. "How are they pedaling so FAST? Maybe I should get some skinny tires too...I bet they think my bike is, like, super dumb...Maybe I if I got some lycra outfits..."

But these moments are rare, and usually followed by "Actually, that guy looks dumb anyway and probably takes himself too seriously."

So, for now, I'll keep pushing hard on my bike, the anti-gadget. It's rusty, but trusty, and I feel good when I can ride it. Oh, and I'm not knocking any of you who choose to spend your paycheck at Velo Pro. I'm just saying a tiny wave to the little guy sharing the lane goes a long way. After all, we're all huffing the same air and pedaling the same streets and doing the same world a lot of good when we don't use our cars, right? Right. Peace, my fellow riders. Anytime we've battled some belly bulge and put more cush in our cash flow, we're doing alright.