The gear chain whispers freedom
I never rode a bike in Chicago. I was scared and I didn’t trust myself. Now I’m a new man in a new place. I bought an old Fuji and a bike rack for $45 and hit the road for Providence. Critical Mass. We met at the People’s Park. We would have strength in numbers. My friend would look out for me. I would look out for myself.
We flew like a migratory flock through Providence. We rode through poor backstreets. We rode through the elite brick & marble campuses of Brown and RISD. We were young and optimistic, united in purpose and united in motion. We had mastered an envelope of space that held us safe and warm. Twilight shone in our eyes and reflected from our helmets. It glowed in our hearts. No one could encumber us with their judgments – we were moving too fast for them. Cars were mere constructs, anachronistic, quaint contrivances, rolling prison cells belching smoke and selfish noises. We were a genius organism – an amoeba in time-lapse, breaking and reforming around earthbound obstacles like quicksilver. We were invincible, we were defiant, we were the shit. We were free.
I changed that night. I grew in reverse. The joy made me feel young. I had accessed the open secret. Biking is more than transportation. Biking is freedom. The novelty may fade but I’m keeping the memories. Pushing up that hill with the kindest of strangers. That moment when the skateboarders flowed alongside us in sympathy and understanding and I wanted to weep.