It’s bike to work Month! Thursday May 9th is bike to work day! I would be lying if I didn’t mention how disappointed I am that I am not volunteering for bike to work day this year. I’ve volunteered for bike to work day for years now and this time around I have forbidden myself to take on any extra activities. I just paid about $350 in bicycle repairs, so I’ve been rolling along these San Francisco hills again.
Yesterday, as I approached the Arguello Gate into the Presidio on my way to San Francisco CrossFit, a round-bellied cyclist swung into the lane in front of me. He turned his head and did a double take. “Oh Hey!” He said with his eyes twinkling behind his glasses. It took a few seconds until recognition kicked in. “Doug! Haha! Hello!” I replied with enthusiasm. I had never seen this coworker outside of the context of work, and here he was at 7:30AM in his retro stretchy biking outfit. It’s always fun and exciting to see people out of context and realize you are crossing paths with a friend.
The day passed and at 4PM it was time to bike home. Getting my ass up and over the hill back through the Arguello Gate is always daunting. It’s such a big hill! So I remind myself that I have all the time in the world to get up and over that incline. One pedal at a time. Sit back and enjoy the ride. Notice the sun on your skin, the breeze on your little hairs, indulge in all of your senses as you inch forward. It is a chance to slow down and take it easy.
The last crest is a bit of a doozy. Near the top of the hill there is a bizarre y-shaped three-way intersection as you go over the last slope. It always seems perilous to me and I try to be extra aware of motorists as I huff and puff my way to flat ground in the bike lane on the other side of the road. Success! I made it to the top! Smooth sailing mostly downhill the rest of the way home! I inhale deeply and soak in the view of the bay and Alcatraz. I see two lovely women cycling towards me and register the blonde as my roommate on her turquoise cruiser. I ring my bell and wave, “Hey Ladies!” I’m smiling now as gravity pulls me around the bend, the wind lapping my hair around my ears.
It’s only been about 48 hours back on the bike and I am bumping into friends on the road left and right. I love how accessible and connected the city feels at times. This is the magic of the bicycle. It connects you with the outdoors and the elements, and with your community as you cruise the streets. None of this idling inside your stuffy vehicle. Breath in the smell of eucalyptus and salty sea air as it sweeps down Geary, feel your sun-kissed shoulders getting tanner as you stretch your arms at the stop light.
The pedal revolution is often one of silent daily activism. The power that it has to transform and delight is horrifically understated in the United States. Cycling instills feelings of freedom and joy, while empowering individuals to make things happen by their own steam. It’s an empowering practice to know that you got yourself from point A to point B. It was all you, every pedal of the way.
Now get off your ass and ride.