The Feeling of Liberation on a Bicycle

There’s something really amazing about being able to experience the city on two wheels instead of four.

The weather has been absolutely great for riding lately. Even if it’s a bit on the warm side, there’s nothing like the feeling of wind in your hair to keep you cool. I’m riding a mountain bike and most of the time I ride on the sidewalks. Hop, skip, dodge a pedestrian, stop for a car, ride, repeat. There’s a feeling of liberation — freedom from the tether of a desk or a car, escalating gas prices, parking tickets, worries. Instead of contributing to a problem I’m trying to fix it. Instead of worrying about theĀ minutiaeĀ I’m focusing on my journey and my destination.

I go up and down sidewalks and, in my mind, I imagine trail switchbacks that I hope to one day ride. I see the Hollywood sign but all around me I see evidence of real life, not the contrived or imagined that is so typical of Los Angeles. I see faces, people walking to and from work, excited tourists from all over the world visiting Tinsel Town hoping to catch a glance of the next up and coming starlet. I see homeless people pushing their carts and huddling together in the evenings. I hear international exchanges everywhere. I ride through quietly privileged neighborhoods and bask in the foliage, ample sunshine, and impossibly wide streets.

Every so often I end up riding on a major street. Most of the time I’m cruising around sidewalks and residential neighborhoods. The whistles and cat calls come…it’s pretty much expected. What’s nice is when I pull up to a stop sign or crosswalk and catch eyes with a driver. They’re usually surprised by a bicyclist, for one. Two, they’re usually surprised that I’m a girl. (The males here seem to outnumber the females quite a bit.) So, I might get a few choice words or a silent acknowledgement, but then I’m back in my world again.

It’s not very often that I get to catch a ride with someone. When I do, I honestly feel like I connect with them on a different level. There’s almost a silent understanding, some sort of positive waves being exchanged. The feeling of being able to experience something so liberating and so joyous with someone else is indescribable. It’s like a new invisible bond is formed and sealed between you and them in that space and in that time. It’s irreplaceable. It’s not the same feeling that I get when I’m walking with someone, sitting next to or across from them, running, or even swimming. It’s a feeling I only get when I’m on a bike.

It seems as though when I want to let off some steam or think, I go for a run. When I want to challenge myself, I go for a swim. But, when I’m looking to return to a “happy place,” I go for a bike ride.

Then there’s the feeling of coming home safe…that always makes me happiest.

When in Doubt, Ride a Bike

It was a great weekend in Los Angeles!

With all of the hoopla of Carmageddon, it was definitely a big weekend for public transportation and biking here in LA. In fact, I’ve never been more proud of living in LA. Late last week, it was announced that the biking group, Wolfpack Hustle, challenged JetBlue’s ridiculous $4 flight promotion between Burbank and Long Beach (two local airports roughly 40 miles apart) to see who would make it there faster. I put my money on the bikes and they didn’t disappoint.

I was, in fact, so motivated that I went home on Saturday night after a 12 mile bike ride with my friend Kaylee and purchased a brand new road bike. I’ve been meaning to get a second bike anyways. The good thing is that it’ll require some small upgrades to be in optimal shape for the triathlon, but it’s a much smaller impact on my wallet than previously imagined. Hooray.

To celebrate all of this goodness, I decided to go park my car in a safe spot so that I could bike to work ALL week. I’ve missed doing that the last three since…well, I can’t find a place to park my car during the day. What a lame problem to have!