I got a single-speed bike because it was the cheapest option by about $200, and I got a Public bike, specifically, because they look super precious and Dutch and thus align well with my goal of having only beautiful possessions (goal trajectory: 400 years). These decisions absolutely make sense if you’re unconcerned with the logistics of riding a bike and don’t mind having to lug around 50-pound objects, all in service of saving some money and looking cute.
But the weight of this thing is genuinely unbelievable. And the amount of physical and mental strength required to store it on the front of my bus every morning is on par with, say, trying to look good in important pictures (so many factors! so little time!). My theory is they arranged the bike rack that way so all bikers interested in riding are shamed out of doing so. Alternate theory is it provides the vehicle with a nice cushion should the driver run the bus straight into a building.
Bitterness towards my bike’s weight and general bulkiness aside, I’ve actually started to love it for its lack of gears. I was riding to work the other day and noticed how my pedals become useless once I’ve reached a certain speed (hence the name single-speed…and then I was like “ooooooh”). While some may label a single-speed inefficient, I appreciated that my bike was saying to me, “Baby girl, you’ve reached your maximum speed. Give those tired legs a break and enjoy the beautiful day around you.” (The tender disposition is an assumption I’m willing to make about my bike. I mean, look at it.) So I just let myself coast, and the inevitable happened: I started to enjoy what was around me and appreciate my short little journey to work.
Very tempted (or disgusted?) by the idea of a stop-and-smell-the-roses metaphor here, but I’m not sure it’s slowing down that’s actually the challenge for me. I mean, I slow down plenty. Marathoning TV shows is one of my biggest hobbies. Sendentation at its finest!
I’m probably drawn to the lethargy and mindlessness of TV because it gives me a mental and physical break from the pressures of Doing Life Right. But I’m starting to grow tired of the peaks and valleys of that capricious roller-coaster.
I appreciate the built-in maximum speed of my bike. It keeps me from riding so hard and fast that I’m sore and resentful and skirting the next opportunity to ride it. There is a beauty to the middle-groundness of it.
I’m interested in a pace of life that is somewhere in between the maximum and minimum. The exhaustive bursts of social plans and productivity and big dreams and self-discipline riddled with exhausted breaks during which I feel worn out and guilty for my inability to sustain it has left me feeling unfulfilled and a little bit like a broken record. Maybe it’s not so much about stopping to appreciate what you have but learning to enjoy a consistent hum of appreciation paired with a calm sense of drive. A delicate balance of everything at once, achieved by way of a very personal understanding of what you need, minute by minute. One that of course only comes with time. Knowing your maximum sustainable speed, and staying there, is no easy feat. Maybe that’s the sense of stability everyone is always talking about.
This was all a giant ruse so I could post my Bike Club sweatshirt, a thrift store purchase I made in college that has essentially guided my entire post-collegiate life and changed who I am on a fundamental level. The wear have one language every where, ya know?