I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about what brings me passion. What is something I can truly identify with that brings me lots of joy? Few things have stuck around in my life since a very young age: books, gardening, swimming, coffee, and bikes. As soon as I arrive in a new place, I get my library card in the new city, I buy plants for the new garden, I find my local coffee shop, I get on a bike and I head to the beach. Simple. They’ve always been my things though and not really something I share with others. Until now.
I started a club the other day. It’s called CycleCHCH. For now, it’s me and one other member. But as far as I know, that is all it takes to make a club official. I schedule social rides and use it as a means to make new friends who like to ride bikes as much as I do.
My love for bikes has now gotten to be something I define myself by. I gawk at bikes when I’m riding around or parked having a coffee outside the local cafe. I browse the web for vintage bikes for sale. I follow bike blogs and latest trends in the bike world. I ride every day, nearly everywhere I go. I read bike magazines. I even dream about bikes because that’s just how damn into them I am. Like I said, it’s one of the few things in life that brings me complete joy.
Thinking back to my youth and where this all stemmed from, I recall that my family are big cyclists and advocates in the cycling community. Although we lived in Atlanta, we still embraced life on two wheels. I remember my father taking long tours out of town on his bike. I remember seeing my brother wear those cycling caps, riding no hands and thinking he was the coolest guy ever. I remember watching my mom learn and re-learn how to ride a bike on the beach. I remember my first bike, my first bike accident, and every bike I’ve owned since. I remember my sister’s teal Specialized bike that travelled all over the US with her and we kept in the family for ages. I remember when the local bike trail opened up by the railroad tracks near my childhood home. Or when sharrows were installed on the streets. I remember the car racks, the trailers, bells, lights, and shoes we accessorized our lives with. To this day, my brother, father, and myself still cycle as our main means of transport. My young nephews now ride around Portland like it’s no big deal. Even my brother-in-law works for Team Type1 race team. There were even bad times. Like the time I was hit by a truck. Or the time my two-day old bike was stolen in Brooklyn. But cycling is in my blood. And I’d never give it up. Let me be clear though, it is never a competitive thing. It is simply a passion that ran deep in my family and has stayed with me ever since.
So naturally, upon arriving to Christchurch, I knew I needed a bike to get around. Cars in this city are mostly for getting out of town. I was delighted to learn about the established cycling community here. Not only do tourists take to bikes to see it all, there are thousands of regular commuters. It’s primarily flat land here, making the barrier to entry for new cyclists rather easy. Even still, there are lots of MBX tracks and racing clubs nearby that take full advantage of city’s cycleways. There is a rich and deep cycling history in NZ that I’ve only begun to scratch the surface with (hence my bike club).
I won’t say that I’m the strongest advocate for cycling though. And I’m certainly not anti-car. There are people much more passionate than I and who use their voice to forward the movement. I simply like to ride and ride and ride until my legs get giggly. I like to collect things in my basket and take a book to the park to read under a tree. I like the sensation I get when the wind pushes me faster toward my destination. I simply like feeling like a kid again: free and without a care in the world. It’s that joy that has kept me pedaling for years.