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Trade my car for a bike: Portland

To Be Car Free
an essay by Noah

Trade my car for a bike in PortlandMeet Stacy, she is a fun loving Chevrolet Malibu with an engine humming to the tune of 230,000 miles of adventure and with the repair bills to prove it.

Stacy clearly loves bicycles, but then again she has a dark side. In Las Vegas she felt threatened by the new found love of "Nervous Nellie" the Blue Nishiki that rode on her roof for 5500 miles around the country. So she did what any overprotective lover would do in the situation; attempted a homicide on my beloved bike. Nervous Nellie met a concrete parking garage and had to be put down once arriving in Portland. Mine and Stacy's relationship has never been the same, rocky to say the least.

So now that the back story is out of the way, why do I want to get rid of my air conditioned, automatic transmissioned, fast driving, road tripping, people hauling, surf board trucking, mobile storage unit?

I will tell you just why:

She pollutes
She throws tantrums
She overheats
She doesn't start when I need her to
She has two too many wheels to be considered a really fun time.

Why do I want to commute on a slower than the average commuter in an automobile, scooter, motorcycle, or moped (ok well maybe not moped, who invented those things? Its like an unhappy bicycle hauling around an engine that irritates more than it performs.)

Why do I want to brave the elements super early in the morning when me and the rest of the world does not really want to be awake nonetheless going to work?

Why do I want to explain to girls that I cannot pick them up a date, unless they want to ride on my handlebars or in a trailer? (With a helmet on of course, which doesn't really help your case of swooning a girl who has spent time fixing her hair; hopefully.)

Why do I want to complicate the spontaneous road trip to all things amazing in the great Pacific Northwest?

Why do I want to "inconvenience" myself for getting to just about any event with a time constraint?

I will tell you why, and even though you cannot see me I will do it with a smile.

I love bicycles, seriously love. They make sense, they react to you, not the other way around. They are the single greatest invention of human powered transport. To quote H.G. Wells "When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race." Kayaks are amazing, Snowboards are amazing, hang gliders are amazing, squirrel suits well the verdict is still out on them. They are all great but they all require something other than a human to get around, a river, a mountain, a plane, a huge cliff, something. Bicycles don't need anything except a human with enough skill, talent, or sheer dedication to get where you need to go.

I am 25 years old and a computer software quality assurance analyst (I know right, sounds exciting huh.) I wake up in the morning begrudgingly and truck it into work, at noon we all get in our cars and drive to eat something that's probably not god for us or maybe it is, get back in the cars and come back to work. It's Amurikah it's what we are supposed to do, ask anyone in Detroit.

It's not fulfilling however, it leaves an empty feeling in me. You have no control, you press the gas and the car goes (hopefully) you can brake and you can open a predetermined amount of windows to let in some of the outside world. There ahs to be more in a people mover, there has to be. And there is; the bicycle. You are free, you get to smell and see and feel everything Mother Nature has to offer as you peddle around town.

You see, I tried to bike I really did. I moved to Portland from Baltimore, a godforsaken bicycle town, and really wanted to bike around, I was not employed and had nothing better to do. I bought a brand new bike and loved it, his name was Clark (I have an affinity for naming inanimate objects) and he transformed me when I got on him, hence his name like Mr. Kent himself. However, I was living with complete strangers in a strange city and I awoke one morning to bad news. The shady male figure that my shady female roommate figure brought home from the bar at the end of a booze filled bad decision fest decided apparently to commandeer my steed out of the living room rather than pay $2 to get his behind back to where he belonged on the bus. So it left me with payments on a bike I no longer owned and a bad taste in my mouth, for bikes, bar figures, and society in general.

This is a taste I need rinsed out, I need a good reliable bicycle that I can commute, tour, camp, doodle, toodle, and canoodle around town on. I want that good old fashioned lovefest for bicycles back in my life, and I do not want to drive anymore. It aggravates me, as it does everyone else; I look around when driving and everyone looks so unhappy and so angry, secretly they all wish they were on bikes.

I want to get soaked in the rain on the way home from work
I want to wear wool knickers and trudge through the snow
I want to jingle my bell at attractive bystanders
I want to smile and offer a hug to drivers angry at the red light
I want to spread joy and happiness on two wheels
I want to stop and observe a squirrel when I see it
I want to pull as close to the curb as I can and smell someone's rosebush
I want have the wind to make my eyes water when it's super early
I want to power myself around, using just my legs as a form of transportation
Most importantly I want to fall in love with bikes again

Shew, that was longer than I expected, sorry about that. I still don't know if I conveyed my point enough. Thanks for this, even writing this essay has made me feel good, I actually almost teared up in happiness just thinking of the good times on bicycles.

I love my city and my city loves bikes, it makes sense right? To me it does and I hope it does to you too.

Oh and I love Fat Tire, sunshine wheat, mothership, wit, blue paddle, 1554, abbey, trippel, mighty arrow, skinny dip, 2 below, and frambozen. Honestly I really love everything about New Belgium, from the work you do with everything from bicycles to saving our beaches and rivers; great breweries are great breweries and you guys have a great brewery.

Noah