Last night I sat on the couch with my dad, watching one of the final stages of the Tour de France. An avid cyclist, my dad watches the tour with the eye of someone who knows how hard the uphill climbs and how fast the hills down really are. I watch it from the standpoint of someone who can’t believe people are capable of either those ups or downs.
Growing up in rural Colorado and New Mexico, on dirt roads, I listened jealously as my parent’s recounted growing up in the Midwest of the 1950’s, armies of children on bikes. In an attempt to recreate this, I would ride my bike through the red mud of McElmo Canyon, frequently getting stuck to the point of having to pull the bike behind me, training wheels and all.
Later, my sister and I spent weeks of our summer at Gramma’s house in Denver. To entertain us, she would frequently organize bike rides with friends and neighbors. These often involved very old bikes, girls who weren’t used to riding in traffic, and overly ambitious routes in summertime heat, leaving my sister and I dreading the mere mention of a ride.
Years later, as a twenty something, I find myself on a rented bike in the state of Chiapas in Southern Mexico. Riding up the side of a mountain as trucks graze my arm on the narrow road, I think, “why do I always think this will be fun?”
It was only recently that I found the ride that works for me. Flat. I don’t like going up or down, I don’t like traffic, and I like comfortable, cushy, Cadillac bike seats. I like to cruise. Luckily for me, downtown Albuquerque is perfect for this, with quiet, tree lined streets, and paths along the river that go the whole length of the city. Beach cruising in LA works as well. Once I realized I’m not a rider but a cruiser, it all became a lot more fun!