May 18, 2012 – That’s the Way I Roll
Today was Bike to Work Day. Just two years ago, I had never biked to work, despite half a century of joyful cycling. Once I started bicycle commuting, it grew slowly from an occasional thing to a year-round activity. I’m still a fair weather rider – no rain or snow – but I’ll bike in temperatures from the 40s to the 80s, even though I’ve decided that 58 degrees is perfect. But I’m starting to feel like I’m closer to the bike-only zealots that I used to think of as fanatics, and now consider role models.
Last year, the total number of riders on B2WD was double what I’d ordinarily encounter on a high-use day. So I tried to leave early enough this morning before the path got too clogged. When I started commuting, there was no one I ever passed on the path. Going uphill I even had runners overtake me on occasion. Now that I’ve become a regular, I’m no longer the slowest wheels on the road and, with my new, lighter bike, I’ve picked up a bit of speed. But get me on the path with a bunch of occasional riders, and suddenly I felt like a pro. Going up the last hill of my commute, along the Custis Trail near the Arlington Court House, a clump of 5 or 6 bikers toiled up the hill. I easily (and, of course, safely) breezed past the lot of them, feeling fit and confident, with just a hint of machisma swagger.
When I arrived at the B2WD pit stop in DC and was choosing the hot pink plastic bike pin to decorate the fluorescent green 2012 B2WD T-shirt, the 20-ish woman working the table noticed my neoprene knee braces and asked how my knees were doing. I told her they were great and she mused that she’ll probably need supports herself one day. Her eyes popped when I told her that I’m 59 and just glad to be able to still bike commute. She smiled and slapped me a high-five.
So, that’s the way I roll. I treated myself to a free bagel and fruit and continued on to the second day of the Aging with Disability symposium, proudly wearing my bright green T-shirt as a conversation starter. The biggest take-away from yesterday’s session: the single factor that is most strongly correlated with higher incidence of disability is obesity. Just one more reason to keep riding the bike – which I wisely parked in the bike rack today.