Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ride On!

I was once told that the most efficient and reliable man-made tool was the bicycle chain. I rediscovered this great invention 6 years ago when I started grad school and needed to save money on gas, parking, time, etc. I say rediscovered because like most children I learned to ride a bike during my elementary school years and then gave it up once I turned 16 and was able to drive. Sure I took a "cheap big box" mountain bike occasionally out for a ride, but never for transportation and typically ending in some kind of mechanical or rider error that landed the bike in the garage or closet until my ambition was great enough to fix it for another ride.

My rebirth into cycling wasn't a glorious moment in my life either, but was definitely life altering. When starting grad school I again bought a "cheap big box" mountain bike (even though I was in Gainesville Florida=no mountains), and at the time I thought I was doing fine on my 2 mile commuter ride to school. I only questioned my abilities when I would be passed by a road bike like I was sitting parked and I was pedaling my hardest. Even though I didn't realize it until much later, the 3 years that I spent making my commuter trips taught me a great deal about cycling and fueled my desire for bicycle advocacy.

My full conversion into a cycling addict began when I gave myself a graduation present and upgraded my "beater" of a mountain bike, with a new Trek road bike. I was fortunate enough to get hired at a company in the downtown Orlando core, an apartment 2 miles from there, and was able to start commuting in style. I immediately noticed that my speed went from 12-15mph to 20+ and that the efficiency of the machine was incredible. This new rate of speed enticed my wife to give me a helmet that Christmas (I forgot to mention that I hadn't been wearing one for the previous 3.5 years, stupid and fortunate). Little did either of us know that in March of the next year I would collide with a truck at about 20mph, crush my helmet, lose my 2 front teeth, but still be alive.


After this baptismal experience into the conflict between motorized vehicles and bicycles, my journey into the cycling world was ready to begin. I sold my truck, got a new helmet and teeth, and made it my personal goal to bike everywhere within reason. Professionally (as a landscape architect), I also see opportunities for communities to better integrate pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

I hope to share with you some of my experiences as an urban bike commuter, advocate for bike friendlier communities, and create a forum for sharing ideas.

Ride hard, ride safe, ride on!

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