I see you out there doing your thing. You’re just biking along, but I see what you’re doing. I just want to tell you that I like it.
I like it when you’re first getting your balance riding around town in the heart of summer: that old bike you’ve had since freshman year all tuned up for the first time, your helmet strapped on tight, your smile a little tense with anticipation. You take a loop around the lakes and that burn in your legs feels bad, but good, because you know you need the exercise. I like it that you’re biking slow and that you’re figuring this shit out.
When you’re unsure of yourself, trying something new, that’s okay. You don’t have to pretend that you have your shit together. Your newness, excitement, anticipation, and anxiety are all part of you. They’re visible to other people, including that one person over there. That person who’s been thinking about giving biking a try. Seeing you do it, even though it’s clear you don’t do it a lot, makes it seem like anyone could. You’re not just doing this for you, you’re doing it for them too.
I like it when you ride your bike in fancy clothes: your business suit rustling in the wind, your flowing dress trailing behind you. I like that you don’t listen to those people who say you can only bike in athletic clothes. You’re going to work at your office, or you’re on your way to a wedding in 5-inch heels. You don’t want to change when you get there, so you’re wearing your clothes. You believe biking is a normal thing to do, so you wear what you want.
When you’re not fitting in to that little box of what people think bikers look like, you’re throwing convention to the wind. You’re making it clear that you’re going to do whatever the fuck you want, and you’re going to do it with style. It doesn’t matter if you get a little windswept on your way, it’ll just give your hair a little more volume. You’re making biking fit into your life, instead of changing your life to accommodate biking.
I like it when you do weird shit with your bike. You’re giving rides to your friend on the back of your longtail bike? You’re biking while your dog runs alongside, tongue flapping? You’re hauling a ping pong table twenty miles on a cargo trailer? You’re biking to work in sub-zero temperatures? You’re decorating your bike with lights and glow sticks and fake flowers and tape and yarn? You’re killing it out there, you weirdo.
When you use your bike to express your individuality, people don’t just see a biker. They see you, whoever you are, in all your glorious you-ness. They see why biking is so fun. They don’t ask why you would ride your bike. What you’re doing looks so fun, the reason is obvious. The joy of it becomes contagious.
I like it when you’re so comfortable with your bike that it becomes part of you. I see you with your beat-up single speed that’s covered in stickers and rust spots. I see how well-loved your messenger bag is, how the butt of your pants is getting worn in the shape of your bike seat. I like that you love biking and you’re not afraid to show it.
When you love biking so much, everyone can see it. Your friends and family don’t comment on how much you bike anymore. They comment whenever you don’t bike. Your coworkers see your bike sitting in the office every day and they start to wonder whether they should give bike commuting a try. You don’t have to evangelize. Your love of biking speaks for itself. You, in riding your bike every day, are doing what words never could. You’re showing, not telling. And that’s powerful.
By doing your thing, you’re not just doing something for yourself. You are a billboard. A two-wheeled billboard communicating to everyone else that what you’re doing is possible. You’re an inspiration, to me and everyone else. Keep it up.