i’ve been riding a bike since i was a little kid. fearless, reckless, i destroyed bikes & parts of my body in jr. high by not thinking about anything except having fun and taking risks while riding. as i gained as much weight as i did in my adult years, my riding declined to the stopping point until 2 years ago when i started to reclaim my health and lose that weight. i had bought a cheap Mongoose and now rode in the neighborhood up to 18 miles a day, but only for health.
i’m 42 now, 90lbs lighter, in a lot better shape than i’ve been in many years, and… i’m kinda scared.
i bought The Bike (2004 Klein Aura V) back in November ’10 with the intention of commuting to work, saving money, helping the environment, and continuing my journey to better health. when the commuting didn’t work out because of gang-related issues (another time / another post), i committed to using the bike as much as i could for errands, pleasure, short trips and riding to Pensacola Beach.
Pensacola Beach is less than 10 miles from my house as the crow flies. it’s a gorgeous drive getting there, and without a doubt, one of the most beautiful beaches in the country.
the problem? to get to the beach, you’ve gotta cross the Pensacola Bay Bridge, a narrow, 3 mile long bridge that crosses the Pensacola Bay, is subject to some strong crosswinds, and can be a little scary to drive over depending on the volume of traffic.
i spent months looking longingly at that bridge from the seat of my bike. i’d make it to the bridge, then turn towards town and ride around there. i made all sorts of excuses as to why i was scared to cross it on the bike. i mean, seriously! look at how people drive across that thing! and what about garbage in the road? if there’s lots of trash, i’m stuck! and crosswinds? c’mon! my lack of balance due to hearing impairment is legendary! one burst of wind from the bay and i’m either pushed into traffic or i’m over the side and in the drink. let’s not even talk about the fact that i can’t wear my hearing aids when i ride, so can’t monitor traffic well! all i needed to do was keep telling myself these things and i’d be sure to not risk anything by crossing that death trap.
but then the jr. higher in me has been calling. and The Bike? oh, man. i honestly had no idea how awesome riding a bike could be until i bought a Klein. such a sweet ride! i had to suck it up, get past the fears and excuses, and just ride the damn bridge!
i enlisted my friend Chris Baskind to ride with me, soothe my fears, steel my resolve, and not let me back out.
and 14 miles after leaving home, we arrived on Pensacola Beach in one piece. and it. was. awesome.
that old bridge doesn’t scare me any more. i’ve ridden across it 3 more times since my first ride a couple weeks ago. i took my Flip UltraHD video camera with me and shot the crossing, sped it up some, added some smooth background music, and put it up:
as i’ve become more confident with riding and with my ability to monitor what’s going on around me while riding, i’m branching out more and feeling good about using the bike for more than just getting healthier.
i’m NOT, however, riding like a jr. higher. pretty sure i’d be dead by now if i were!