I moved down to Santa Fe from Boulder, Colorado back in 1987 with a 20-year-old, one-speed Schwinn bungeed to the roof of my car. It was the best bike in the world: springy seat, beefy fenders, wide handle bars with hard, groovy grips. Best of all it was an adult bike with foot brakes. When I bought it at a garage sale for $20 bucks, it was striped like a green, yellow, and black zebra, but it also came with two half-jars of paint (green and yellow). The implication was that the new owner should make the bike his or her own. Before officially purchasing the masterpiece, I asked the owner if he still had any of the black, and the guy laughed and said, “Sorry. It’s long gone.” He could see that I was already sold on the beauty, which I ended up spray painting gold and blue and then used the remaining green and yellow in a thick-and-juicy Jackson Pollack style.
Until it was stolen (having been left unlocked) a couple of months after my move, that two-wheeler was the closest thing to a friend that I ever had outside of the animal kingdom—even higher on the list than some of my favorite hats! For years and years (especially during the retro-bike phase a decade ago), whenever I’d see a bike that looked anything like mine, I’d do a double take to make sure. Some days, like a homesick kid at sleep-away camp who briefly sees a car that looks almost like his parents’ ancient station wagon, I’d sulk a little and need to find some time alone.
Twenty-three years ago, cycling in Santa Fe sucked compared to Boulder, but for a dude in his early 20s in some ways the challenge was quite fun. You had to be more creative because there were no designated trails, no special lanes, no supportive signage, and certainly no politically powerful cycling advocates. Now, as a father, husband, and bike commuter, I must say that it’s extremely impressive how much things can change for the better over the course of a couple of decades. Santa Fe, although certainly not perfect, is nothing other than a bike-friendly community. And it seems that everyday, I see more and more of us out there. Old folks, young folks, and parents with kids are all beginning to realize the thrill of guilt-free two wheels.
I’ll be sporting tons of alternative-transportation advice as the months and years go by on this blog, but today I’ll leave you with a very important no brainer: If you can’t be with the bike you love, lock it before you leave.