my dad’s old trek in the city

I went on a bike ride tonight, which I really haven’t done in forever. I think the last time I went biking was the spring of 2002 when I was in China for a few weeks. Beijing was the first city I really got to know. I loved the smells, dirty and savory, the reality of being on the streets with millions of other people, riding here and there.

Biking is so much better than driving, you’re out there in the air, you feel a little vulnerable, a little dangerous, like a stupid driver could hit you with their Cadillac any minute, but you are going to dodge death and make it to the public library in one piece. I don’t know, but it just does something for me. I rode today on streets I frequent in the car, and the view is so different from the bike. There’s this bridge raised about three stories up above some train tracks where I could see a bungalow neighborhood, a county park, the local energy company, some distant defunct factories, the north-side radio towers at least 10 miles away, all tinted by a gorgeous sunset.

I would never notice all this in the car where we are always going somewhere quick, insulated and safe. here’s nNothing like a bicycle in the city. I suppose this is a big reason why my dad spent several years biking 10 miles to work, from the burbs, through the city and all the way to his office on the north-side. He did it for exercise, but I am sure he loved the exhileration of being one with the bike and the road and society.

On my way home I rode some side streets passing the unbeknownst to me Working-Class Heroes bar, just a few blocks from my house, adjacent to a Big Bird yellow house with Cookie Monster blue trim. Something about this house really reminded me of Sesame Street. I’d never really noticed this block before. My trip to the library had been fruitful, resulting in the new John Grisham novel, which I will likely devour in a day or two, but the way there and back reminded me why I enjoy the city, why I loved Beijing. I think I’ll start making this a regular event.

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4 Responses to my dad’s old trek in the city

  1. allan says:

    I’m supposed to be preping my bible study for tomorrow night but who can resist identifying with a biking story. Yeah, i love my bike…it’s one of the only things that came with me all the way from SAfrica to the UK and now to Chi-Town.

    This summer…I can’t wait…I can hear the song in my head right now…”I ride my bike to the girl that I like..” -MXPX

  2. Mary says:

    is that really their song? did they steal it from dr.seuss?

    i ride my bike
    to the girl that i like
    do i ride it in the snow?
    do i ride it with a bow?
    i don’t know.
    i love her so.

    so i take a bike to her
    even when it’s cold “brrr”
    but my pedals freeze in place
    and now i fall, flat on my face.

    now i buy a car you see
    and find a girl in tennessee
    we’re as happy as can be
    hee hee hee hee hee hee

    mxpx ROCKS.

  3. Laura says:

    Allan – how awesome that you got to bring your bike here. I wish I had my old Giant from Beijing here… I swear just the fact that that thing has been in Tiananmen Square (and that it was spray painted black so that no one would see the brand name and steal it) would make me ride way more often.

  4. Jack says:

    I still love riding my bike, although since I’ve reintroduced myself to the wonderful game of golf a few years ago, I don’t ride as much. But I still commute from Elm Grove to Glendale a couple of times a week in the summer, and it is very refreshing in the morning in particular, when the traffic is light, and the air is cooler. And it’s a great calorie burner.

    I know just what Laura means about seeing the city a different way on a bike. You just see things that you don’t notice in a car. I still have memories of an Easter day ride I took in around 1974 or so, when spring had just sprung, and I rode the streets and parkways on a warm morning before stuffing myself later at my Moms house.

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