The next person who leans out a car window and gushes at me, ‘oh i really admire you it’s so amazing that you ride your bike all over the island‘ is gonna get popped in the head. Listen: Its not me. Its the bike.
I am a five-foot-nuthin 51-yr-old woman. I’m no athlete, and I’m also no masochist. I’m a lazyass. I ride my bike because its fun and because it is easier than walking. Easier?! Yes. Riding a bike is actually supposed to be easy. And here’s another shocker: it’s not supposed to hurt.
Oh, I know. You have a big ol’ clunker of a bike. It has huge chunky tires, it is too big for you, the chain falls off, the tires are half-flat, and it is rusted to shit cuz you left it out in the rain all winter. It sucks to ride, so you don’t ride it. I wouldn’t ride your bike either. My neck and back would hurt, and I would sweat indelicately. Riding that bike would just be way too much work. Given the choice between riding your bike and any other way of getting there, I’d choose the other way. In my case most likely I’d hitch-hike, and you of course would drive your car.
You look at me with grave skepticism. Oh no, you say, a bike is a bike, and I’m just really not much of a bike person. But you, you are a superhero. Oh don’t make me barf. I say again, it’s not you. It’s your bike.
A bike that will be fun and easy to ride will be one that fits you, is in decent working condition, and has its tires fully inflated. That’ll work on the flats. But most importantly, if you want it to be easy to ride up a hill, you will need a good gear range, and you will need to use your gears. That my friends, is the ultimate secret to easy biking: gears. Gears will make it easy (if slow, but what’s the rush?) for you to ride up almost any hill, and they will allow you to continue to gain momentum on the downhill so you can whoosh halfway up the next one. A three-speed (or god forbid a single-speed) is not easier to ride than a 27-speed. It is harder. Gears are for lazy people, like you and me.
So you have a choice. You can smile wistfully and pretend that there is something genetically deficient in your body that makes you unable to locomote on two wheels instead of four. Or, you can lay down a minute amount of cash (in the big scheme of things) for a tuneup, a pair of thinner tires, or a new bike that is capable of getting you around without pain or hardship. You can have a bike that makes you think of excuses to ride it, instead of a bike that makes you think of excuses to not ride it. Any bike you actually ride is a good bike. But even if your bike was cheap or free, a bike you don’t ride is a rotten deal.
You can ride a bike or not ride a bike. I don’t care. Just, when you see me smiling as I spin slow and steady up a hill, don’t get all gushy at me. My bike is doing most of the work. I’m just along for the ride.