I have a new passion. Its wonderful. I have been toying with the idea of getting a bike since moving to Austin. This and that got in the way (mainly money). Then one day my baggy board shorts wouldn't fit (not easily) and the next day, I had a bike (hello imaginary money). It was just under $700. It's a great Trek seven.two. It's neither city nor mountain bike. Its good on light trails and fine on the street. A few months before getting the bike I bought a helmet (like people who buy a wedding dress before they've got the ring or maybe even the man). The helmet is baby blue. The bike is baby blue. It was meant to be. Got a bike cage for my Klean Kanteen (can you believe the guy tried to get me to buy one of those squeeze bottles?) and a rear light. Later I got a front light and because my hands kept going numb I replaced the grips with Ergon bio cork handlebar grips. I also got a little bell with a pink electra sticker on it - but mostly I just say "on your left" or slow down until I can pass people.
But, back to the awesome bike. It combines so many great things I love and never knew I loved. Its a great way to enjoyably exercise without the bouncing (actually, my head gets jostled instead of my boobs). Its fun. I am really not a thrill junky (I'll quickly wear out the breaks on these hills) but I can ride at a good pace and still enjoy the scenery. I forgot to mention the outdoors. You're outside on a bike. In a neighborhood or on the trail or whatever. Of course, its much more sustainable than driving my car. In Europe and Japan I did not mind mass transit. In the US, its rather icky. Buses and subways over here just make me want to wash my hands. Crazy people talk to you. But on a bike your being eco-concious without the hassle of associating with other people. The best way to arrive at work is after a great mind clearing bike ride. And the best way to get home is back on your bike. I might wake up grumpy, but once I'm on my bike all you think about is whats around you and pedaling. After work, the day's stupidity washes away while you pedal in the now.
Something else I never realized I enjoyed is the challenge biking presents. Austin is a hilly rocky area and that makes for some interesting biking. Personally, I prefer relatively soft, flat trails, but I do enjoy the challenge of getting up the hill and not falling off my bike going over some rocks. It's a great feeling to think: wow, I did that!
I met a cool couple at REI (through my freakish love of Klean Kanteen...) who run the blog Path Less Pedaled and tour around the US (and soon more!) on their bikes. Watching their videos and reading the blog has inspired me to make a trip with either Amtrak and my bike or my car & bike or just bike. South Florida is great for that - drive to a little island, rent a bike, and enjoy the area. Which, is another cool thing about biking: there are so many communities within it. There are easy paved park riders, and commuters, and serious racers, mountain bikers, and of course "kids" who ride without proper protection (lights etc) erratically and give bikers a bad name. You ride on the street and smile or wave when you see someone else on a bike (ok, not the reckless no helmet wearing kids). You never drive a car and think "Hey! Your in a car, I'm in a car, that's cool!". But being a (responsible) biker makes you part of a community.
So far, I've only biked down to and around the lake (and past sxsw), to work (a short two mile-ish trip), down Shoal Creek which runs through downtown, and to Central Market. I look forward to some bigger trips, to getting panniers, maybe a mirror, assorted bags... Maybe build up to biking to a state park? Lending my mom the car....