Saturday, January 09, 2016

Working Man's Hero

Moving to Vancouver has been tougher than expected. I'm not sure what I expected, but I had been told, and had been expecting that it was a more bike friendly city. Oh, sure, I can see the mountains from my office (when it isn't foggy). And there are bears and trees. But riding my bike, riding the way I used to ride, is out of the question.

When I trained for Trans Iowa, Arrowhead, Dirty Kansa, and Tuscobia, among others, I trained daily, but it wasn't a burden. I was always shocked by the time and money that people would throw into their workouts, as though they had to become a martyr to the race. All I did was go out for an hour ride after work. This wasn't a big deal. I'd cycle home, change clothes, and head out for fifteen, or so, miles of gravel. It took me about ten minutes to get out of town and then I could really go. I never considered getting in a car or taking the bus to a destination and then riding.

But I can see that this isn't realistic here. Riding in the city isn't something done lightly. There are few trails, the trails that do exist go nowhere, and, while there are bike lanes on some roads, I felt safer riding on highways without shoulders back in Iowa. I was reminded of this when I was back in Ames over the break. I rode from my old apartment to the movie theater, in the dark, through the snow, without a helmet, in the part of town I would never go to when I lived there because it was inaccessible by bike (South Duff, for those who know). And I was able to do it without ever having someone cut me off, honk at me, or box me in: three things that often happen to me in Vancouver.

One might defend this city by pointing to all the beautiful mountains and all the great mountain bike trails. One might mention all the bike lanes downtown, or the trails in North Vancouver. But these are destination rides. Getting there would mean an hour+ on the bus or a long ride through the 'burbs. Sure, there are fifteen-year-olds who use the 145 bus as a shuttle up Burnaby mountain, on their $5k downhill bikes. Sure, I see folks driving their carbon wonders around on top of their Audis. But I don't have the time or money for that kind of “riding,”

This adjustment has been the hardest thing about coming to this city. Maybe I am beginning to understand why the martyr attitude is normal.   

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