What’s your cycling story?

As an adult I took up cycling as a viable means of transportation.

I had to make some tough choices. Buy food and pay rent OR pay for car insurance and gasoline.

All four did not fit into my budget. Something had to give.

I thought about it long and hard.

I looked for an easier way to get back and forth to work. I called the car pool number. No answer. I left a message. No response.

I asked around at work if anyone would carpool with me. The responses were varied but always ended on the same note, “Sorry, Can’t do it.”

So I bought a bicycle.

How did you get into it?

I looked around at the various types of bicycles. I was really out of shape and the idea of being on two wheels was scary. I felt deep down in my bones that I would fall off and get hurt or killed if I tried it. I felt so strongly about it that when I was researching bicycles I would only look at tricycles. I spent a lot of time combing through craigslist, online bicycle shops, bicycle for sale forums. Then I found It.

It was an old model Sun-EZ recumbent trike. I was so excited and immediately sent the seller an email.

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Yes, he still had it. Yes, it was still for sale. Yes, it was in good condition. No, he could not ship it.

How to haul such a big bike in my little Toyota Camry?

Now to research bicycle racks.

My budget was tight. The price of the trike was pushing my finances to the limits.

I eventually came across a trunk mounted bicycle rack. It was designed to hold two regular bicycles. I hoped that it could hold one big trike.

The seller lived just outside New Orleans. So my son and I drove down there. Survived New Orleans rush hour traffic. Barely survived.

The seller turned out to be a nice man with a disability. He used the trike to commute back and forth to work. His fiancée was concerned for his safety and he ended up selling it.

I could totally understand her concerns after barely making it to the mall unscathed.

Car culture sucks. It makes people mean and self entitled.

It is survival of the fittest and if you play by the rules, they will kill you.

OR

Call the cops and complain to have you removed from “Their” road.

Money was handed over and I strapped the trike onto the rack, with help from my son.

We drove straight back.

My son ended up helping me pay for gas to get back home and I used all my Speedway points to buy us food and drinks.

Money was that tight.

The trike was home and I gave it a test spin on our street.

OMG!

I was so out of shape.

I put it in our unfurnished living room and it sat there for several weeks.

I continued to drive. Driving was easy.

Then I was pulled over by a local officer. He had run my plates and they came back as flagged for no insurance. So he pulled me over and cited me for no insurance and took my plates. He gave me a ride home and I called my friend. She came and got my car and parked it in my driveway. There it has sat to this day.

I knew I couldn’t ride the 18 miles one way to work right off the bat. So my friend helped me get to work for a couple of weeks.

I researched everything I could find on local bicycle laws. There was not much information out there.

The best I found was a PDF document written by a traffic engineer who was also a LCI. LCI = League Certified Instructor.

It said that my bicycle was a vehicle and that I had all the rights and responsibilities. A few exceptions were made in KY allowing for the differences that a bicycle has. I had to have lights. I didn’t have to have a horn or a mirror. The trike came with a mirror and I chose to add an AirZound air horn. It was mostly used to honk back at the honkers. I used it a couple of times to get the attention of a distracted driver but mostly it was useless. I saved up and bought the brightest lights I could find. Two in front and two in back. I added reflectors and reflective tape. I also had a flag.

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As you can see from the picture above you would have to be driving blind to miss me.

The PDF document also mentioned that there was an exception to the state statute which states that driving off the road is illegal.

It says that bicycles MAY use the shoulder. An exception had been made for cyclists who did not feel comfortable riding on the road.

I did not feel comfortable riding on the road. So I used the shoulder.

After a while it became apparent to me that this was not safer but the idea of being in the travel lane made me uncomfortable. Especially on the trike.

What drives you to ride?

I was getting bullied at work and on the road. My choice to follow good economic sense was ridiculed. Motorists felt entitled to scream at me from their vehicles. Honk at me and even intentionally drive their vehicles at me for the purpose of scaring me.

One young man, with his mom and grandmother as passengers, proceeded to scream at me and hurl abuse at me as I was trying to share an un-share-able lane.  It was so egregious  that I called the police. In Fayette County they take cyclists rights seriously. The responding officer took the report and told me that it would be my word against theirs and that I did not need to “Share a lane” with any vehicle. The lane was mine.

I believed him. But I wanted to see a law on this. I couldn’t find one in the bicycle literature and so I kept to the side.

I joined the Bluegrass Bicycling Club as a way to belong to something and surround myself with people who would at least accept that I rode a bicycle as normal.

I looked at their site and at all the pictures of club rides. I needed a two-wheeled bike.

I had lost a lot of weight by this point and I felt stronger. So I gave my full attention to locating an inexpensive road bike.

Which is when I found Broke Spoke Community Bike Shop.

I had saved a little money and had a general idea of what I was looking for.  So I went in and found this.

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The first time I rode it to work I fell off trying to navigate over the rumble strip.  I had my backpack loaded with stuff I thought I might need and when I fell over I must have looked like a turtle on its back.

It was hilarious and scary. A motorist went by after I fell over and I thought “What if they had been right behind me?”

That got me to thinking.

I didn’t participate in any club rides that year. I was too nervous about keeping up.

I attended the Broke Spoke CranksGiving food drive. I had ridden the whole day and most of it was with a backpack full of canned and boxed goods.  I rode with my lights on the entire time.

In California, where I learned to drive, you are encouraged to keep your lights on when operating your car. It’s a safety thing.

Made sense to me.

It was on my way home from the food drive that I received my first citation.

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I attended my first ever social event with BCC at West Sixth Brewery. This is where I met some people who were very supportive of my cycling habit and for the first time in a long time I felt like I belonged.

I took the Univega out for a club ride. Those people whooped my ass. It took me a week to recover. I needed a bike with better shifting capabilities. I just wasn’t skilled enough to shift quickly with friction shifters.

One time on my way home from work I came across this cyclist who was commuting home from work. Older gentleman. He kinda rubbed me the wrong way at first. I asked him about his bike. He said he had built it himself. It was pretty much like mine only you could tell it was subtly different. That old man took off at the light and I managed to keep up with him but just barely. The whole time I’m looking at his legs and I’m thinking “I want legs that look like that!”

Turns out that he is a champion cyclist and builds custom steel bicycles.  I feel honored to have been left in his dust.

Have you ever seen those Greek paintings? The ones with the really fit men throwing disks and spears? He had legs like that.  I too would have legs like that. They would be mine, oh yes, they would be mine.

I love cycling. If I could afford the fancy equipment and the expensive road bike. I would love to be more competitive.

For now I go on club rides and just enjoy being with people who get it.

Money is still tight but not to the extent that it had been tight. There is room to buy things that my kids needed and there is money to buy things they want.  As long as their wants are modest.

Over all things were looking up and Murphys Law being true to form, everything went to shit.  I was hit with three more citations and then two more after that. All together I have 6 citations. 5 of which are for cycling on the road.

The only thing that has truly seen us through these times is the fact that I am not tied down to a car. I don’t dislike that you drive. Knowing what I know now. I just wouldn’t chose that lifestyle for myself.

I am a single mom.  I am a survivor of domestic violence.

I am a cyclist.

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2 thoughts on “What’s your cycling story?

  1. I’ve worked in bicycle shops for a little over a decade, and the stories I hear about how someone starts riding a bicycle are always interesting to me. They never get old, and I love asking people “Why?” Thank you for sharing this story online.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Terrific post!

    I am very surprised with your openness. Your honesty, and admitted prior struggles with finances and citations, made this writing so real and down to earth. I’ve read hundreds of responses to the question of “why do you love cycling”, but your question is so more original – and your topic is rarely covered. You’ve inspired me to reflect. Perhaps I will gather my thoughts and place them in paragraphs soon enough.

    Btw, good move on switching from trike. Couldn’t picture it.

    Liked by 1 person

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