This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Leadership of the blind--a trip back home

   This past weekend's train ride was more than a just a day trip to Chicago's Loop.  I was actually going to visit my aging parents in central Illinois.  These trips were the main incentive for me to buy a folding bike, since it is a lot more pleasant to ride a train than drive 8+ hours (that on a good day when Chicago does not turn into a parking lot).  But with spring around the corner I would have a chance to enjoy a few rides around my hometown.  Riding on the train it really occurred to me why I was attracted to cycling

looking through the train window you can see it.  This state is really flat!  I mean, driveways are the only challenge.  Why the fixie boom didn't start in downstate Illinois is beyond me, I never looked at it this way.
   I remember when I was growing up and got my first 3 speed Raliegh.   I had to ride across town to the bike  shop where the owner, Dave, had built a street corner repair shop into a small success despite being totally blind.  There was an eerie confidence you gained while watching him grope over your bike, feeling the rims and spokes, describing each adjustment he was making.  All the while his empty eyes stared as he smiled right past you.  In those days. there seemed to be bikes everywhere, hundreds at the elementary schools and public library, bikes littered the sidewalks outside stores in town.  Dave's son developed the business further, got a Schwinn franchise in the late 60's, moved to a better retail location on the north side, and developed the line with Fuji, Panasonic, and Motobecane just in time to take advantage of the bike boom in the '70s.  The town developed Bike Routes to steer the traffic between the two colleges, mall, downtown shopping district and the city recreation area.
     On my visit, I found all those routes all marked with fresh signage.  Fresh pavement  cutting a nice MUP through the Lake Storey rec area, past soccer fields, baseball diamonds, to the beach, picnic areas, play grounds and picturesque fishing holes next to the golf course.
The paths were all there, perfectly maintained and ready for a beautiful spring day.  Only one thing was missing--bikes.  Throughout the entire weekend, I saw one spandex hamster in his super-hero garb, riding his Cannondale.  He looked at me kind of quizzically as I rode past on my folder dressed in jeans and an argyle sweater (not at all "regulation").  But that was it, one cyclist beside myself all weekend.
    After thinking a bit, I realized that Dave had died, his son closed shop, retired and moved on.  No bike shop, no bikes.  No advocacy, no participation.

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