Skip the Camry, start pedaling

Skip the Camry, start pedaling

Skip the Camry, start pedaling

Andrew Ford

Wearing an old baseball shirt and dusty denim shorts, I pedaled hard through the sweat spilling off my forehead. Grasping firmly onto a one-gallon jug of water in one hand, I gripped my blue BMX grip with the other.

In the summer of ’99, each and everyday, I’d wake up, load up on a few snacks and a lot of water, then ride the half mile from my house down to an undeveloped subdivision to launch off dirt-jumps, practice bunny hops and listen to whatever the local rock-n-roll station would play for us. Each day, I’d ride my bike brimming with pride and joy, riding no-handed into ‘tween freedom.

My old blue BMX bike might have been a little slower than a car and a little less flashy, but it was mine and that was all that mattered.

Since then, I’ve almost exclusively reserved my bikes for collecting dust and providing shade for car wheels on the far side of the garage.

At 15, I was never going to ride my bike again. I got my license and started driving. Long trips, short trips, girl trips, alone trips. Anywhere I wanted to go, I’d take my hobbled Honda Accord.

At first, I didn’t ride my bike because I thought I had lost the thing. My younger brother asked to borrow it one night, then just as little brothers always do, he made some quick, careless decision to leave it napping on the bark bed in the front of our house for the evening.

Like any crumby night locked in your parents’ house, a bad night happened. The bike got stolen.

I swore off our brotherhood. I told him I’d change my name just to ensure that everyone knew I didn’t associate with careless bike levers.

Then, one police report and a couple flat tires later (that bike always got flat tires at just the right time.) my shiny Powerlite Coqpit was found in the ditch a couple miles from home.

The cop even dropped it off at my house. Nice guy. Once the bike was in my hands, my neglect to pedal my freshmen and sophomore years was all on me. For two years, I stayed in the comfort of a car.

But a funny thing happened at the end of last year. Fresh off the worst winter in the history of claims to worst winters, I got a new bike.

New, as in a steel-framed J.C. Penney rust bucket, complete with speckling blue paint and squeaks that will follow you for miles.

After using my bike to get Gatorade, crumb donuts and more, I decided I’d try and ride it to work.

It wasn’t bad.

How about back-to-back days? Then a whole week without using my car.

On my way to Coscto I glided past cars, cats and carbon while saving money as gas hovered around four dollars.

A crazy thing happened when I just stopped thinking about how miserable all those people that ride bikes to work must be and, instead, got my own:  I realized that riding a bike, isn’t a chore, it’s fun. Heck, even addicting.

So this year, I abandoned the car completely. Why not?

I ride around in my roommates wagon more than I’d like, but if you pay close attention when you’re driving on Zora or Florida, Range Line or Newman, you just might notice the miserable guy riding the red bike with the orange handle bars. Don’t pity him though, just look close: He’s still smiling.