“I don’t really like biking all that much.” I said this the other day at the playground at my daughter’s school and was met with shock and outrage. So I thought I should explain myself.
I bike a lot. Most often, I am riding a bakfiets, with or without my kids. Because I ride an interesting bike, I talk to people every day about my bike. I talk enthusiastically. I love my bike. I feel happy riding it, and I like being noticed on it.
But I don’t really like “biking.” Perhaps that makes no sense, because I’m sort of a biking evangelist. Biking is a big part of how we get around as a carfree family. But here’s the thing. Think of all of the people that you know that own cars. How many of them love cars? Some of them do, but lots of them feel “meh” about cars, and I’m betting some of those car owners actually hate their cars. Cars are just how most people get around, you don’t have to be that excited about them to make use of them.
Bikes are different. Biking as an adult is strictly a recreational or sporting activity for most people. It comes with an obsession with gear and funny outfits. There just aren’t that many utility and family bikers (although our numbers are growing), and that means that most of us had to work hard and obsess a fair amount to find ourselves with the bikes that we use every day. Thus many of the family and utility bikers out there love biking and the biking culture because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t have the lifestyle that they have.
On most days I get from place to place by biking on an 80 pound of bike with 90 pounds of kids plus my own weight. Frankly, that seems like plenty to me. I don’t usually want to take a bike ride on the weekend for fun, much to the sorrow of my husband. Weekends are for resting, not biking. I don’t want to think about bike gear. Actually, I do aspire to buy a nice bike for my own non-cargo, non-kid use, something that looks good and doesn’t weigh a million pounds. But I don’t care about the brand or what bells and whistles it might have. Like most car owners, I want transportation that looks nice, works, and isn’t more than I can afford. When it comes time to buy, I’ll talk to my friends and ask Carice at Bicycle Belle for advice.
I don’t want to do group bike rides, or hang out at most bike events. I tend to feel out of place at those because of the whole not-really-into-bikes thing. I do enjoy talking to other people who have a similar relationship to biking, like Stacy Bisker of A Simple Six, who I got to meet and chat with the other day. I have enjoyed the family biking events that I have been involved in, which have given me a chance to connect with other people in a similar boat.
So what do I want out of biking? I want roads that are safe for me, and that are built with my needs as a biker in mind. I want a bike that is comfortable to ride in the city, one that fits my small body, has a step-through frame, and lets me haul kids and other stuff. I want to be able to occasionally hang out and swap stories with other people that ride like me, because it’s the way they get around town. I want to sometimes ride my bike in a parade.* I have many of these things, and I am grateful for them, even if biking isn’t really my thing.