The theme of this year’s Blog Action Day is climate change. There are many science bloggers who have a lot to say about this a lot more knowledgeably than I can. But my post today isn’t here to warn, admonish, or predict.
I want to talk about bikes and the joy of them. My first bike was a red Raleigh. Its name was Queenie. My best friend’s bike was Bluebell. I was seven and I chose both names. Our bikes were horses and we were accompanied on our adventures by an assortment of imaginary animals. We rode up and down our street and around our suburban neighbourhood. When I was a teenager, I got a second hand blue bike and rode it downtown. Downtown is a misnomer, because in fact it was all uphill as the centre of the city in which I was born was an extinct volcano.
I rode slowly uphill, standing to get more force into my pedaling, and flew all the way back downhill. I didn’t know that I was experiencing the freedom that bikes gave women in the late 19th century. The new woman of that era took to the bicycle and was suddenly free to ride unaccompanied by chaperones. It may even be proposed that the bike was instrumental in making the 19th century woman anew. Tea houses sprang up, catering to women riding out and having their own adventures–just like my best friends and I when I was seven and seventeen.
I wrote the first draft of my first novel in Prince Edward Island. I had no car and so I discovered exactly how far I could go by foot. From the cottage I was renting on the south side of the Hillsborough River to the good coffee shop in Charlottetown (now there are many, but that year there was one and also a really good Middle-Eastern restaurant that made great fallafel) was a fifty minute walk. It was a lovely and contemplative walk over the bridge that ran parallel to the posts of the old bridge where black birds held parliament. It was about a twenty minute bike ride and a seven minute drive. I bought a bike.
But here is my sad confession: I don’t own a bike anymore. I left it in PEI, where, after riding it twice, I chose to walk instead. The reason was that the bike seat hurt my tender parts. I am assured by people I know that there are new high-tech magical seats that do not cause soreness there. And when Toronto gets bike lanes, I am certain that I will get a bike and the type of seat of which they speak.
But here is my happy confession: I don’t own a car. When our twenty year old car finally bit the dust in August of 2008, we decided not to replace it.
I thought I would miss it. I don’t. I walk, take the subway, and have a membership in Autoshare, though I haven’t used it yet.
Maybe….just maybe….I’ll get a bike. Or learn how to go downhill on inline skates without bonking my head. And when I am old, I will wear purple with a red helmet. Perhaps I ought to start practising now.