Sunday, August 26, 2012

My Sweet Bicicleta

Readers, I've gone all summer without posting a single word to this little piece of blog. My initial instinct was to apologize to all of you for my absence. But to be honest, I'm not really sorry; mostly because I've been off exploring the strength of my legs and the depth of my spirit with my brand new bicycle. Allow me to elaborate on this fabulous new development.

On June 16th (yes, precisely June 16th), while perusing a bike sale, I fell in love with an ORANGE bike. After some price bargaining, I rode it home and began to traverse the urban stage on a pair of wheels, not heels, wheeeeeeeels! I can hardly express my seemingly unbreakable happiness. The bike has  loads of swagger, it's equipped with an 8-speed internal hub gear-shifter (for those darn bay area hills), fenders, a rack, and a very cute Parisian basket. In fact, I can't always handle all that swagger; there have been times when I am riding mi bici (bike in Spanish) and I start to laugh and smile hysterically without real reason (to outsiders, I likely look borderline psychotic).  I ride it as much as I can; as a data geek, I've tracked my mileage, and in 2 months I've biked over 220 miles (and I'm only counting the big rides). Check out my chart!

I always feel the need to express my gratitude to the divine for the life I've been given. I come from very little means and right now I feel very fortunate to have my stylish and highly functional bike; it is truly the machine of my dreams. As I've noted previously, I love the process of styling myself; I love that internal dialogue that I have with my intuition, the result of which, I then choose to express outward. Most importantly, as a transportation lady, it's such a privilege to be able to express my style in my mode of transport. My bike is an outfit I intuitively selected one summer day that’s 100 times better than any outfit I currently have. All the while, I'm making an important statement: I can travel sustainabily and stylishly! Of all the things that I've been a consumer of, my stylish bike is the least I feel guilty about.

It helps that mi bici  has a tremendous utility in the context of my life. I don’t own a car and until recently, I was getting around by transit, ridesharing, walking, and in some cases, I just avoided going to places. I’m lucky that I live in a city with good transit.  Mi bici has certainly expanded my mobility in a way that is personally meaningful but also socially responsible. When I’m biking, I don’t hurt ANYBODY! I don’t produce GHG emissions and I am not driving a 3-ton vehicle that could kill you in a second of distraction. The max speed I can clock is 20 mph (on a hill), which would probably break a couple of bones if I ever accidentally run into someone. 

Nevertheless, there are some depressing realities that I’ve had to accept; for one thing, there’s a real possibility that a careless driver could kill me. But, then again, that’s a reality for everyone on the road. I’ve minimized that by choosing a very visible orange bike and administering caution while biking. On the less important scale, I've had to figure out how to avoid scratching my tights with the pedals and the best way to tuck my dress in order to avoid flashing folks.
If you haven’t guessed already, I am not the type of biker that wears Spandex. And while we're on the subject of biker types, I should note that I also don’t feel safe riding in mixed traffic.I need sharrows at a minimum (see pic below) as I ain't gonna ride in that jungle of cars in ma’ cute dress with no bike stencil in sight. My needs are not unusual; In fact, most people fall into this biker category. This brings me to another harsh reality: bike networks are still patchworks in most cities. Fortunately, my local bike network is fairly decent and I can usually cruise comfortably in a flower-print dress.

Like most people, I  typically go to the grocery store on the weekend. Yesterday, as I rode over to the Berkeley Bowl to engross myself with wonderful produce, I hummed along to my theme song (lately, it's "All right Now" ) and I felt incredibly beautiful and free. I was actually wearing a super cute dress and random people on the street complimented me. I didn't leave the house with that objective, but somehow, together, my bike and I looked beautiful. Now if only others could feel the joy of biking........ cities around the world, we have to do better! I leave you with a couple of pics of la bici and I.

PS. I’ll entertain your subconscious thought that I am being very florid and idealistic in calling my experience biking as “beautiful”; I am fundamentally a romantic and I embrace a romantic bike-riding version of me, even if in reality I sometimes get yelled at by angry drivers and I'm sweating bullets after a crazy hill. More on this romantic notion later...


  1. wheels, not heels, wheeeeeeeels! i loves it!!!!!!!

  2. Love it Teresa!! Your orange bike is awesome, and I'm now inspired to get a bike when I go back to Cambridge. Xoxo Emily

  3. That's great Emily! I'm glad you're considering a bike =)! Good luck in your next year at Sloan! And say hello to your dad, the knee doc for me!

  4. Reminds me of the feeling I had when I first started riding in the city...minus the parts about dresses and tights of course!