How “Getting Back on the Bike” Really Became A Thing for Me
If you come to the Veneto and manage to get out of Venezia’s city center, you will most likely notice the saturation of cyclists in this region. Guys on road bikes with all sorts of fancy gear (and spandex!) whiz by daringly close to cars. Ladies dressed impeccably in sundresses meander down the street with their hair loosened behind them (no helmets considered), their produce perched in the basket in front, seemingly without a care in the world. All of this sounds quite idealized, but trust me, this is truly what you will see on a daily basis in Vicenza province. After moving here in 2013, I began to give biking a closer consideration.
The last time I had truly biked was probably in college when I went home to visit my parents, but I never brought my bike to college. (After a while, they gave my bike away because they realized I would probably never move back to the States.) By default, I never really biked much more then recreationally, but not for some specific reason like a bad fall or car accident. That’s just how it turned out. After graduating with my Bachelor’s degree in 2007, I moved to Bahrain. I didn’t think twice about getting a bike for several very practical reasons: I was only going to be living in Bahrain for 2 years and didn’t have a way to get a bike to wherever I would move next, women generally weren’t seen on bikes, it was HOT and HUMID, and the roads were dangerous and quite uneven in my neighborhood. The only people we saw biking around Bahrain were Indian and Pakistani guys in rickety bikes that looked as though they would fall apart any minute, let alone take you where you wanted to go!
Fast forward to 2009: I moved to Kiev and began living the city life without a car. I did notice some people biking, but it didn’t seem to be a super huge part of the culture. I quickly settled in to taking marshrutka buses, walking places, and taking the metro. One of my dearest friends and apartment mate, Oksana, was in a cyclist’s association and biked all the time. I began to look practically at what biking might mean for me in Kiev and came up with some similar reasons for not doing it: I didn’t know how I would get the bike shipped to where I wanted to live next (I wasn’t moving with shipping companies then, only with excess baggage), I didn’t have extra funds to buy a bike, and biking in Kiev traffic was intimidating.
And here’s where Italia and the present come into our story! In 2013, I married Drew and moved here to Italy. Since I had visited him many times before, I knew that he had two bikes. While he used to prefer his mountain bike, all of a sudden he “went native” and started to favor his road bike. Biking to work became the new norm and climbing hills with colleagues on disgustingly hot days was not unusual. When we began to bike together on weekend and other outings, I would ride his mountain bike, but I never claimed to want to keep up with him! It became clear that I would need a bike that was more suited to my own measurements when my knees started hurting after longer rides. The dilemma was that this would not be a financial possibility until the next biking season, so I continued to ride the mountain bike with minor adjustments to the seat height when necessary.
With the new bike my planned birthday present for 2015, but our move away from bella Italia coming before my birthday, Drew took me in to Cicli Maddalena about one month ago to have the bike built. While there, we discussed possibilities of road bikes, city bikes, hybrid bikes, mountain bikes, and brands to make any cyclist’s mouth water, like Orbea. What I really wanted was a bike that I’ll be able to make a commute on when we move to Tashkent in August. And I wanted it to be 100% Italian, kind of like a goodbye Italy and memory to keep me forever Italian in my heart. So we had Davide build the bike for me, and saw the final results this week when we picked it up!
Enter Musetta, the name I’ve given to my gorgeous new Italian bicycle. As several people have commented, yes, she is bright pink. Her name certainly suits her! A hybrid bike that can hold up to 25 kilos on the back, complete with a basket in the front, a beautiful bell and strong tires, this bike will hopefully help get me to my new job after we move. Unfortunately, I only have had one week to ride her and she will be boxed up for the moving company tomorrow, but it’s one more thing to look forward to when we receive our shipment in Tashkent.
I’ve met several people here who have commended me for actually biking again, since it’s been about 10 years, but I do feel that the phrase “just like riding a bike” is quite an accurate one. It’s taken me a while to get my biking form back, and I haven’t biked much this Spring, but just taking the steps to get back on the bike has been so uplifting for me. I realize that a lot of my practical excuses for not biking were just that: excuses. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still petrified of busy roads and traffic, and I hate climbing hills with Drew. Actually, I WON’T climb hills with Drew. But, knowing that I am going somewhere with my own strength, not adding toxins to the environment with a car, and getting some exercise while I’m on my way there are all things that keep me going! Getting back on the bike and facing the fear of traffic has helped me to feel invincible, helping me face fears and negativity and replace them with strength and positivity.
I’m looking forward to riding my new bike, Musetta, when I see her again in August.