In my younger days I was an avid cyclist. As a child growing up I was never at home. I was always out riding my neighborhood with friends or riding the trails that connected our dead end streets. During the summer months I would ride my bike to the swimming pool which was easily a good two miles from my house. If I had somewhere to go, odds are I would arrive at my destination via pedal power.
As I got older, the love of cycling remained ingrained in my being. I had a group of friends that I hung out with and we would ride every chance we got. Sometimes we’d just throw the bikes on the bike rack, take down the top on my Isuzu Amigo, and run down to Galveston just to ride up and down the seawall. Back then cycling was a pastime, not a necessity.
But alas, life has a way of robbing of you of the things that bring you joy. My friends and I grew older and went our separate ways. I got my first “real job” and cycling got pushed to the back burner. There was no longer extra money to spend on new shifters or rims as my wife and I started our life together, buying our first house and bringing our little one into the world. Diapers had to be bought, bills had to be paid, and grass had to be cut. There just didn’t seem to be any time or money left over for cycling.
I decided late last year that I was going to start riding again. Life had settled down a bit, and my daughter was now old enough to ride her own bicycle. A lot of time had passed since I had ridden, and I’m not nearly in as good a shape as I had been when I used to ride. After careful examination of all the factors, I decided that the neither the mountain nor the road bike hanging in the shed with their dry rotted tires and caked on dust were suitable for my needs, so I took them down and sold them to a used bike shop in Houston. After much debate over what to replace them with, I finally decided on a single speed cruiser. Since there is no longer a bike shop in my community and a bike from Wal-Mart just wasn’t going to cut it, I headed over to Bay Area Schwinn in Pasadena and picked up my awesome new black and yellow Schwinn cruiser.
It was slow going at first, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect after so many years of not riding. I pedaled around the neighborhood for a while, then came to the realization that maybe this wasn’t going to be as much fun as I had initially hoped. I was severely out of shape, and let’s not even mention just how sore sitting on a bike seat for an extended period of time can make one’s, *ahem*, crotch.
I tried in vain for a few more weeks to get accustomed to riding again, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I eventually threw in the towel and relegated the bumblebee colored cruiser to it’s newly created resting place, the hook in the ceiling of the garage.
Enter $3.85 per gallon gas. Cycling was about to become a necessity.
According to this MSNBC report, I am not the only person who is heeding the call of the bicycle. Bicycle sales are on the rise all over the country. The high price of gas is driving record numbers of people to look to alternative forms of transportation, and bicycling is there to fill that need. Shop owners all over are reporting record sales and some have said that this is turning out to be one of their best years ever. I guess high gas prices are good for some people.
After realizing that the price of gas was going nowhere but up, I took down the cruiser, dusted it off, and aired up the tires. I was now determined to make this work. I live within riding distance of everything but my job, and I have no excuse not to ride my bike. I live within a mile of the grocery store, the pharmacy, the library, the auto parts store, the meat market, and an abundance of eating establishments. I honestly have no reason to not utilize my own power in order to travel to any of these destinations.
The only obstacle I encountered was how to get the groceries home. After scouring the internet for the answer, I came to the conclusion that I was going to build a trailer to haul my groceries with. There are several websites dedicated to both the purchase and / or building of bicycle trailers, and I came away with a good understanding of what it was going to take to tackle this endeavor.
To make a long story short, I got my trailer built and have successfully used it to go grocery shopping. And you know what? It felt great. I am using less gas and getting myself into shape all at the same time. I’m saving money, reducing my carbon footprint, and instilling a sense of eco-responsibility into my daughter, who has encouraged me the whole time.
I’ll wrap up by saying that I encourage everyone to go outside, dust off that bike hanging in your garage or shed and take it for a spin. You never know, you might enjoy it