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.

The Kill Switch, #DayOfAnger, and Fragility Of It All

Net neutrality sparked conversation all throughout the blogosphere and Twittersphere this week with historic events like the State of the Union address and Egypt’s Day of Anger. These events have pointed back to the discussion of net neutrality and sovereignty of nations over digital communications.

Do we have a right to expect digital communications to remain free of political trickery? If Egypt could pull the plug on the Internet for their citizens, couldn’t something like that ostensibly happen to us in the free world? And since we rely on commercial providers, and because commerce isn’t immune to political lobbying or pressure, aren’t we all at risk?

The short answer is yes.

Although there is no silver bullet that will fix all of our worldly problems, I think the best thing we can do right now as citizens of a relatively free country is to take advantage of all of the resources we have at our disposal. We should be using technology to open up communications, carry intelligent conversations, and help others achieve freedom through technology. Oh, and if you can swing it, I would sign up for premium level services for your favorite apps. If web apps were member and customer supported instead of being backed by actual investors with agendas, I believe that we could keep autonomy over our technology.

So, tonight, I will be spending my time with these wonderful objects of my affection and staying true to my word! How will you further the Internet? Will you be generating content or just letting a few select people tell our collective story?