Ramblings of a bike commuter

Every time I ride home from campus I think of putting a note on this one car that blocks the sidewalk ramp in front of their house that leads to the H1 overpass.  I have to sometimes get off my bike to walk it around which is extremely annoying.  I’ve imagined writing, “I’m a disabled person in a wheelchair that cannot access the over-ramp because of your car”.  Though I am averse to lying.  But today I actually saw an elderly man with a cane that had to go around the car, up and down the sidewalk curb; not easy for an older man!  So on my way home I thought, well now I can leave a note, but on his behalf.  So I plan to bring a note soon saying:

“Please do not block the sidewalk.  An elderly uncle with a cane was trying to reach the overpass and had to go around your car.”

Will I actually do it?  I don’t know.  But I like to think I of myself as the advocate of keeping sidewalks clear for pedestrians and cyclists to get over the bridge.  Probably only 2 people ever use the bridge (me and the old man), but that it beside the point.  

I love taking the “long way” home from campus, circling around Diamond Head crater.  Zooming down the hills is enthralling and  a huge rush.  I pause over the lookout and check out the waves, jealous of the surfers and thinking I should be out there too.  The long downhill from the lookout to Kapiolani Park is my favorite: I duck my head down to go faster and faster.

I then ride the bike path (one of the few) around Kapiolani Park to Kalakaua and turn back the same way, passing Kamainas Beach.  It’s perfect.  Then I head home.

I can’t say I love my bike.  Not like my old bike(s).  Here it is:

My current bike

My current bike

It’s a 15-year old hybrid I found on Craigslist for cheap.  It serves the purpose of getting me to and from places, but I’d never want to ride it longer than five miles.  I am pretty happy about the basket I installed and now I don’t have to have a sweaty back when I go to school (or work).  I also like the little bell Carlo got me from Holland, though people usually have no idea what the noise is if I ring it and just keep on as usual.  It’s a Marin, not that it means anything to me.  I don’t like hybrids: they don’t necessarily do anything well.  They aren’t fast, nor can you ride down a mountain off-road.  But they do get you from point A to point B and you don’t have to crouch over as much as you do in a road bike.  They seem to handle potholes well too.

I loved my last bike, “Rita”.  It was a permanent loan from Susanita and Rob, hence the name Rita.  Here it is (and in front of the Washington Monument nonetheless):

Rita the bike

Rita the bike

Rita is still used by some old roommates which makes me happy, though I do get jealous.  I contemplate shipping it over here but the shipping costs would be more than it’s worth.  At least in dollars.  I put a lot of work into Rita and even though she was a Raleigh from the 1980’s, she had character and was fast.

The bike I had before contributed to my love for Rita because it was SLOW.  And even older.  Here is “Brittany”, named after the model Free Spirit “Brittany”, an exclusive from Sears Roebuck back in the day:

Brittany the bike

Brittany the bike

Brittany had character and brought up feelings of nostalgia but it was very heavy and runners would pass me up hills.  Though once she got going, she could go pretty fast!  I got her from a garage sale fundraiser I helped out with but never actually paid for it.  Oops.

So I am wondering why I’ve never named my current bike.  I guess I don’t really like it.  But what would I name it if I did?  hmmmm.

I love bike commuting.  I wish the bike lanes were decent in Hawaii and I could feel comfortable biking everywhere.  I think everyone should do it, but it is kind of terrifying in Honolulu.  I think I just love any mode of transportation that is man-powered or powered by nature: paddling, sailing, swimming…and I guess running and walking.  There is so much satisfaction knowing you’ve arrived to your destination based on your own “woman/man power”.

Though as a bike commuter, it’s not so much about ‘enjoying the ride’ but going fast.  I want to sleep in as long as possible which means if I bike faster I can do this.  This is why I want a road bike with drop handle bars.  I daydream of when I finally graduate and get a job and let myself buy a decent road bike.  Then I can go fast.

Bike or not, I dream of graduating.  Soon!


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