Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Pleasures of Biking Grows Beyond Point A to B
There's really no single definitive reason why more people don't ride bikes. Instead, it's a bunch of little things, all smashed together to form a fairly significant, "I just can't." You have heard it all before. There's the length of the commute, the weather, the kids and their soccer camps, the dogs and their vet visits, the groceries and their need to be bought. There's your hair and its haircut. Your outfit and its desire to arrive unwrinkled to the office. There's a lot.
But once you, the non-cyclist, gets acquainted with you, the cyclist, a slightly clichéd thing called "biking joy" will take over. Biking joy is a combination of relief at not being inside a car, pleasure at breathing cool, fresh air, contentment at observing all the different aspects of your surroundings you wouldn't connect to if you were driving, and satisfaction that you are getting a bit of exercise in the process of going in an eco-friendly fashion from point A to B.
And once that bike joy kicks in, you, like every other human on the planet, will want to repeat what you noticed was a pleasurable experience. And so you start trying to solve all those little problems - weather, kids, pets, and produce - that you previously thought were insurmountable, in order to be able to ride your bike.
Once you do that, you transition to bike imagination mode. Your bike-mobile is now an individualized transport device, and all you have to do is keep the tires pumped, the chain lubed, and the bell free from rust. Liberated from the tyranny of constant car, your mind is now free to roam into new creative pathways.
And that is when you start to create things for your bike to do - like haul your dining room table, carry a 6-pack of beer or bottle of wine, or move your household.
Or, like Jana Kinsman, you might start thinking of how to tend to and transport bee hives on the back of a bike custom-designed to keep those honeybees happy in their journeys around Chicago. Kinsman discovered an unexpected sense of community when she learned beekeeping in Eugene, Oregon. She wanted to combine that with her eco-friendly biking life in the city of Chicago. Her Kickstarter project Bike-A-Bee is now funded, and Kinsman is building hives and preparing her project.
Maybe bees are not your passion, and hot tubbing is. Then you think more along the lines of designers Floris Schoonderbeek and Dick van Hoff, who have created what they call the Dutch Tub, a fiberglass, brightly colored hot tub that is fired by wood and can be transported by bike (at 165 pounds, it's not heavier than taking the average adult on back). The Dutch Tub is another way to build community and happiness, especially in cool and rain-soaked places like Portland, Oregon.
And then, there's Chalktrail. Chalktrail is being touted as a hot new kid's toy, but I don't see it that way at all. To me, Chalktrail is the Kickstarter version of those instant bike trail devices that have been incredibly popular. Chalktrail had no problem reaching its $37,000 funding goal, and now the product's first production run is already sold out. What's cool about Chalktrail, aside from the instant bike path aspect, is the fact that its creators solved the problem of multiple bike tire sizes.
Last but not least, if your bike joy is big and your budget is, too, your summer bash deserves a visit from the beer bike. Metrofiets, a Portland-based company, built a beer-keg bike a few years back, and was amazed at the positive response the bike generated at events in this ale-happy city. So Metrofiets built a second bike, specifically designed for rental.
For $150, you can have the beer bike delivered to your location (beyond Portland locations require a special quote) and the next day it will be picked up again. The beer is not included, but nearly everything else you could possibly want for a portable party - two taps, a Co2 system, 100 feet of cooling coils, drip tray, full height bar top, towel holder, electric assist, rear rack and a battery-powered stereo system that you can plug your tunes into is. Summer's almost here!