Saturday, June 14, 2008

How I Came To Be Bicycle Chic

Once upon a time, I had the brilliant idea to ride my bike three miles from my apartment to campus. I had a bike friendly enough neighborhood, but I lacked a bike rack or basket and I had a gargantuan Dickies bookbag. I arrived at my destination sweaty and exhausted. I gave myself only enough time to make it to class promptly if I exerted the maximum physical effort to get there. I looked nothing like and felt nothing like the other cyclists I'd seen whizzing through my neighborhood streets. Yes, they were Lycra clad, self-hydration system wearing enthusiasts, but they were the only example I had. There was that one other guy who wore regular clothes, but he rode a BMX bike and had calves like Popeye the Sailor Man. I felt like a singular loser. I rode occasionally for pleasure, but I didn't stray far from my neighborhood or bike paths. I didn't have the confidence to face the Atlanta streets.

Then, I moved. I now live in the country, sorta. This once sleepy town has become a bedroom community of Atlanta. The transplants place more cars on the roads, but many shops and restaurants still close at 9PM or earlier. The streets are quiet when people are at work and, during the dinner hour(s), the streets are nearly empty. People here are family-minded I suppose and, when they see me on my bike, I believe they assume I'm a child and give me a wide berth. These conveniences have allowed me to get out and ride a lot more than I have in the past and build my confidence.

My move also coincided with an increase in the presence of bicycle chicness on the Web. I'd seen plenty about bike commuting; there seemed to be a lot of planning and long distances involved. Not what I was looking for. The first inkling I had of bicycle chic came from "The Diva's Guide to Biking," but the article didn't give me a sense that anyone other than divas were cycling while sexy. Now, there are a lot more blogs highlighting this phenomenon and they're not all written in Copenhagen! This blog is my humble contribution to the movement and, hopefully, a source of encouragement to those trying to ride in a place as hot as North Georgia.

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Maira Gall