On Bikes

by Danny Zawacki

I am a bike rider, and I always have been. All through primary school, until I got a car, I rode my bike to and from school everyday. Even in rain and snow and freezing temperatures. In college I rode it a ton too, one winter commuting five miles each way to work, five days a week.

Now, I bike to work when the weather suits. I don’t push myself through the snow and rain if I don’t have to because I have a bus pass. I don’t have my own car anymore, so that along with terrible parking conditions downtown are more than enough to keep me riding.

There’s something about being on a bicycle, fixed or not, that is freeing. You know you’re flying down streets on your own leg power. You can ride off-road and go places cars cannot. It can haul things too, like groceries from the store conveniently on my route home. It just makes sense to ride a bike in Madison.

My opinions surrounding bikes have aged with me. I wore a helmet for years, until it became uncool in high school. Now the wife doesn’t let me out of the house without it, but I don’t mind wearing it. Keeps me safe. I also used to take the approach that less is more with a bike, that’s why I ride fixed, and I would strip off all parts I didn’t need and wouldn’t add anything that would add weight. Keep it simple and fast. But I’ve started making exceptions with age. I have fenders to keep the rain off and lights to help me be seen (I only use at night, I haven’t converted to using all the time, yet).

Even my views on fixed gears being superior have started to change. I rode a friend’s road bike over the summer, a Bianci, and got a taste for what a good road bike could be. Since then, I’ve started building my own road bike, I think I’m just lacking some new chain rings to make it completely ride-able. I see the merit in having gears, having ridden without for the past ten years.

No matter where I go, or what I do, I’ll always be a biker. I’ll pick places to live based on what’s ride-able and what isn’t. My mindset will age with me, but I’ll always want to be on two wheels.