May is just around the corner and needless to say we here at Rideshare have been running around like crazy getting everything in line for yet another Bike Month. As the event days draw near our focus turns to newsletters, T-shirts, a distinct color pallet, small panic moments about a seemingly pending spoke card crises (averted) and the ever looming possibility that there is something we are forgetting. It is weeks like these that you tend to forget why it is you do what you do. What is this for, who cares and why should they? Why do we? Don't get me wrong, I love every minute of it (well most minutes) but when you take a step back, catch your breath and shake off the glazed look in your eye, you realize that it really just comes down to bikes, why we ride and why we want others to do it too.
So allow me to indulge for just a moment in this question, why?
When I first moved to San Luis Obispo over two years ago, I was not a "cyclist", by any means of the word. I rode my bike to get around out of necessity in college and to be honest it wasn't until my last year in school that I even had a bike worth riding (thanks pops). Basically I wasn’t about to hit the open road in my spandex. When I came to SLO I stumbled upon Rideshare as one of those fresh graduates looking for an opportunity to get my time in with a "real job" and lucky for me, I got it. What I wasn't expecting however was a not just a job but a new way of life. I know, branching into the cheesy lines, but it's true. After living here in SLO, biking became not just a way to get around, but a part of who I am in this town.
So here we go, here is why I ride:
- People here care about their bikes as though they are their children. I can walk past a coffee shop in town and have a good idea of who is inside based on what bikes are parked out front in the rack.
- Next, I feel good doing it. It is an amazing way to wind down after work, or more importantly to wake myself up as I am rushing out the door. It gets your blood pumping and yea maybe a little bit sweaty but I like to consider it a glow.
- My wallet loves me. I know, I don’t need to draw attention to the gas prices, we all know that its on the rise. But $4 something a gallon! You have got to be kidding me! I would much rather spend that money on a tasty snack that will help me pedal home.
- I like air, I like it clean. I also like to see the creeks flowing with clear water and to hear the sounds of those crazy frogs on the bike path over constant drone of traffic.
- Because I want others to be able to ride too. We have amazing infrastructure here in SLO and it is constantly improving throughout the County thanks to the hard work of many public officials, city and regional planners and dedicated community members who have volunteered their time to advocate for biking as a viable means of transport.
- It’s fun. Plain and simple.
I'm still not a cyclist, I'm a bicycle commuter, community member, mobile dance party participant and cheerleader for whatever other outrageous 2 wheeled activities may arise. By riding a bike in this town you are automatically a part of a broader community. There is no being good or bad at it and it doesn't matter how far you go or what bike you have. It’s just about making that choice to ride instead of drive, to be a part of something rather than isolated in your car.
Don't get me wrong, there is no us vs. them scenarios here, bike vs. car. Believe it or not, most people who bike have cars too, and drive them. We just want to help people see that there is a choice and show everyone that it is not all or nothing.
So here is my final pitch. Just try. Yep, just get on a bike and see how you feel when you are done. And then try it again sometime. And then maybe again and come to an event and see the community come together first hand. Then take a moment, whether a seasoned bike veteran or first time peddler, to realize that you are a part of it, the biking community. Then, tell me if it doesn’t make you smile.