Romancing and the Open Road


Bike Romance

Romancing the Open Road in the Season of Locusts

I fell in love with my bike at the age of 5. I would jump on it and go anywhere I wanted on my own. I was one with the wind. When I was seven, we had the seven-year locusts come to live in our neighborhood. The air was thick brown with big grasshoppers. My mother tried to discourage me from my travels. Staying inside instead of cruising did not appeal to me on a summer’s day, so I choose to bike through the locust storm. It was not the typical Pennsylvania summer at all. The sky was intense; it was thick brown, showing almost no air. In spite of this, bike is what I did around my hills. I will never forget riding with a swarm of locusts.

Always, there has been an inextricable, inexplicable experience of nature in any period of romance that I have been taken or owned by. I believe that what we try to own or do own, owns us. In a very young and idealistic time of life, long ago, one thing I did not want to be owned by was an oil-chugging vehicle. Romance was akin to freedom on a very open road that one found on bicycle or on foot. If one did need more help or comfort, the window of a train worked well.

 Human-Powered Travel is Romantic

C’est beau, Paris, à vélo, vu du Trocadéro

Romancing the road with a companion who also loves nature was the depth of experience for me at that time; we were travelers, not tourists. There is a distinct difference. In traveling, one goes deeply into the physical and emotional terrain of a place, without insulation — one wants experience more than comfort or protection. One does not come back from the experience the same. One comes back transformed, stronger, and richer with life experience.

I quite agree with Christine Grant in her article(s) on bikes:

Human-powered travel is romantic.” Christine sets a romantic tone, planning dinner together with beau as they bike home. This is what bonds some – sensual immersion in the weather, planning nourishment. This is romance I can understand….

Romantic Monsoon Biking, Tropical Rhythm

When I first moved to the tropics, I found the storms to be the most amazing part of nature. With sky and the water all surrounding, the Gulf coast became home to me. What seemed like a monsoon started during a tropical depression. The rain did not let up for 8 days straight. This is one of my fond memories of being pregnant. I was encompassed in a tropical womb while my own was growing. The rain was never-ending, so we had to find a low ebb in the rain to bicycle to the store for necessary food. We listened, tuned in, and found nature’s rhythms. Rain would slow a bit and someone would quickly bike to the store. When the rain ebbed, it was only slightly, only briefly.

Cyclist with umbrella on his bike in the rain.
Snel naar huis met een paraplu op de fiets

Christine points how Europeans have cultivated romance and biking in their urban environments much more consciously than we have. Still, I believe we find it, one on one into two, in spite of lagging behind with our infrastructure. People are impassioned about their lives on bikes more than ever before. The wind rises, the sun descends, and romance cultivates romance.

Nihola’s good for more than kid hauling!
Bike Love

International Bicycling Lessons

Following are more points from Christine’s articles:

  • “Biking is healthy — and cheap.”
  • “You don’t have to be a ‘cyclist’ to ride a bike.”
  • “You don’t need a racing bike.”
  • “Women love biking.”
  • “It’s safer than a sofa. Sedentary living doubles the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity.”
  • “Say ‘thank you.’ Cyclists also save city governments money by reducing traffic congestion, storm water run-off, air pollution, and road maintenance expenditures.”
  • “You don’t need ‘bike clothes.’”
  • “Electrify it. A cargo bike with two kids and groceries (below) can be hard to get up hills.” But a little electricity can help.
  • “Admit it: It’s emotional. Smell and touch are the senses most linked to our emotions. In Europe and Japan, I spoke with dozens of urban cyclists who talked about the curious happiness derived from activating your senses and connecting with your city on a bicycle.”
  • “It’s a virtuous circle—or cycle. ‘Cycling isn’t just a part of the Dutch DNA,’ Marc van Woudenberg told me in Amsterdam—where 47 percent of residents make at least one trip per day on a bicycle. The Dutch have the highest rates of utility cycling in the world because citizens have made it clear to politicians that cycling infrastructure is a priority.”
Romance and Sunset
  • It’s the infrastructure, stupid! Amazing infrastructure makes cycling normal and safe in bike meccas, but not yet in the Northwest. For example, parked cars to the left of the bike lane not only provide a barrier between motorized traffic and cyclists, they also minimize a cyclist’s chance of getting ‘doored.’ Most cars in Denmark (pictured) only have one occupant, the driver, and drivers get out on the left. Same goes for the Northwest.” 
  • “Bike share! Bike share! Bike share! Bike share! Bike share!”
Velíb bikes in Paris
Side by side.

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