The bike life

I ride my bike. That was the first line in my first column, way back in February.

The day after it was printed, a friend — who commutes by bike and doesn't own a car — called me.

"It says you ride your bike," he said.

"And?" I said.

"Well ..."

"I ride my bike," I said. "I ride it sometimes."

On the other end was silence.

"OK, not much recently, but it's winter," I said. "There's ice on the ground. It's dangerous. I could slip."

"Uh huh."

"Well, I'm going to start riding it. Riding it more, I mean. You'll see."

The next day, I got back on my bike. On my way downtown, I pedaled under a sunny sky. Life was good.

On my way home, I got pelted by a freak snowstorm. I walked in the front door soaked, with helmet hair and an oiled leg.

"What happened to you?" my housemate asked.

"I rode my bike."

"Looks like you got run over by your bike."


It's not always easy being green.

Being eco-conscious takes mental — and physical — work. It often means exchanging convenient for challenging. It means looking at the consequences.

Green living involves looking at the sum of the parts, and at each part. It's like a bike: each part has to be in order for the whole to work, and when it's working, you can really get somewhere.

As long as you don't give up.

I vowed I wouldn't. A bit of weather and bad hair wasn't going to get me down.

Plus, I'd already fudged the truth about bike riding once — my apologies, readers — so I figured I'd better not again. Karma, you know?

Even though my car is fuel-efficient, it sends far more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than my bike. That said, the first week I was back on my bike, I'm sure the carbon dioxide I exhaled huffing and puffing uphill could have kept a small grove of trees busy.

I've kept riding, and I've gotten better. Since that the first week of soreness and tailbone bruises, bike riding's been 100 percent awesome.

Life is good. And the bike-riding life is even better.

I'm trying to use my car as sparingly as possible. I've learned to gear up for inclement weather and I've bought lights for riding at night.

I've ridden with a backpack full of groceries and a bag full of library books. I've ridden so much my hands are chapped.

I'm getting really in to it. I don't think I'm quite ready for the spandex outfit or the trick pegs, but maybe next month.

Because I'm not giving up. I've been down that path, and I'm not going back.

Bike riding actually fits right in with my philosophy on green living. I believe in making small lifestyle changes that, over time, can have big benefits.

Imagine if everyone in Ashland decided to go car-free for one day each week. In a year, we'd shrink our carbon footprint considerably.

But, whether it's 20,000 people or 20 people who opt for alternative transportation, I think it makes a difference.

Let's hope this car-free road isn't the one less traveled for long. Let's hope it's full of bike riders, bus takers, walkers and electric-vehicle drivers. And let's hope, just like my experience on my bike, it gets easier as it goes.

I'm trying to do my part. I'd love to hear from others who are using alternative transportation. If you see me around town, feel free to share your stories and tips.

Just know I'll probably have helmet hair. And I won't care.

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or with your ideas for this column.

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