Of Pastors and Bikes (part 1)

December 16, 2011 § 1 Comment

December in Northeast Ohio isn’t exactly the perfect time of year to dust off my old Ten-Speed and try to start biking back and forth to and from work.
But since when has my clan done anything the easy way?
Winter has come to my part of the country.  Not snow (at least not yet), but the cold, the damp, and the darkness that typically gather at this end of the calendar have settled in.
I always get a little bit restless during these winter months.  I start visiting the library more often, drinking hot drinks, and basically entering a certain kind of hibernation.
Well, this year I’ve gotten tired of the same old winter routine.
I’ve done some reading that has awakened something that’s fallen asleep within my soul.  Google “ken kifer’s bike pages” for your own awakening.  Or “Icebike”.  Or “commute by bike”.
I loved my bike when I was a kid.  My friends and I would spend hours on our bikes.  We’d chase each other around town, up and down alleys, through people’s yards (we never got yelled at)…our bikes were our identity.
I took good care of my bike in those days.  I would give it a wash and wax a couple of times a year, I oiled the chain probably too often, I adjusted the seat just because I could.
And I never understood the obsession that my older brothers had with cars.
It was clear in my ten year old mind; bikes were the supreme mode of transportation.  You can go places on a bike you could never go in a car.  Maintenance was much cheaper and cleaner to handle yourself, and even as a ten year old kid I could handle just about any repair with no assistance!  You don’t need a license to operate a bike, and you don’t spend any money on gas, insurance, or registration.
I loved my bike, and I went everywhere on it.
Then I turned 14.
In Iowa, 16 is the magical age where you can get your driver’s license.  However, at age 14 you become eligible to receive a permit, which allows you to drive in the company of your parent or other adult driver in the passenger seat (at least that was the law when I turned 14).
On my fourteenth birthday, I saw a whole new world of independence open up before me.  In just two short years, I would have complete and utter freedom to go where I wanted to go quickly in spite of the weather, the time of day, or the season of the year!  I was determined to spend those two years learning what I could to gain my true independence with my own driver’s license on my 16th birthday.  (maybe in another post I’ll talk about how my permit was revoked when I was 15, and pushed my licensing back until I was 16 and a half).
When I finally did get my license, I promptly got a job in a neighboring town…a job to pay my parents back the $600 they spent on my first car…a  Ford Tempo…a job to pay for the gas and oil I now burned to drive to and from school, work, and play.
I got in that car and unfortunately, I let it turn my bike into a toy.
I only got on my bike after that occasionally.
But you know, after more than 20 years, all the benefits I named when I was 10 are still valid benefits.  I would even add a couple more; things like the physical exercise you get when you ride a bike and the environmental benefits of not running an engine…not to mention the change in pace we could all benefit from in taking just a little longer to get somewhere.
Besides all that, our stalled economy just might benefit more if there were fewer cars on the road.  Ken Kifer’s page in particular builds a pretty solid case for the financial benefits alone that choosing a bike over a car can make in an individual’s life.
All that to say I’d like to commit myself to using my bike more often.  The biggest obstacle by far is mental.
I only live a couple of miles from where I work.  And while I can’t give my car up completely (us pastors do feel the need to be readily available to travel 5-15 miles relatively quickly), it would be good for me, my community, and my world to use my bike more often.
December or not; here I come.

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§ One Response to Of Pastors and Bikes (part 1)

  • Kevin Gasser says:

    As I read this post I was reminded of a story that you once shared about falling off your bike in a park as one of the meanest boys in town watched and laughed (or something like that). Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen this time around.

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