No Time to Drive

I hope you like my attempt at a recreation of what my morning is like since my family and I went car-light.  Hopefully, one day, you can do the same. 


The new 2011 MADSEN has a soft saddle stock on the bike, on which you are sitting as you pedal past a construction zone.  The bike feels very light when you’re riding it, and you are doing an easy 11 to 13 mph.  The same three men you always pass stop their cutting into the road to install pipes for the county; they wave at your three-year-old daughter behind you in the back bucket, which is very easy to clean, so it’s all blue and shiny even though she had strawberries in it yesterday.  It is good that it can be cleaned.  Construction on the road is awful.  You are happy to be on a bike and not part of all that mess.

Yet a bike that you are reviewing is already getting dust on it.  Tiny sugar crystals sticking in the grease on the teeth of the shiny new chain ring.  Adrenaline surges:  essays to grade, baby shower to plan, dance class, two play dates, first-grade homework, dinner, dishes, bath time.  You are riding faster now.  Then something strange happens.  You burn off that adrenaline.  

Last year, you’d be sitting there, your blood literally stewing in adrenaline.  And then later, in conversations about driving, you would talk about road rage and other people would laugh when you said that, as if it was acceptable to act a different way on the road than you would at the grocery store; as if it would be totally cool to act like you were going to try and hit another person with your grocery cart.  But you don’t have road rage.  You wave politely at the construction workers who are going back to work.  Dust is such a funny thing to be stressed out about.

Today you have been riding the new 2011 MADSEN for one week.  This is a bike that was actually designed to carry children and groceries, fitted with four seat-belts, all bolted in the back into a gigantic shell that is made out of the same materials they use to make white-water kayaks.  Also, today you have a realization:  You do not have enough time to drive a car anymore.

You used to drive a car everywhere, the Excursion, the PT Cruiser, the Volvo (the Monte Carlo, the Escort, the Sentra, the Corolla, the Lynx, the Ranger, the Astro Van).  A morning commute was just part of life.  You’d wake up, tie your tie, and drink your coffee in your car while you tried to beat the clock.  Because you made it one time in fifteen minutes, you should be able to make it in fifteen minutes every time.  So you leave fifteen minutes to get there.  But it never takes that.  It’s always more like eighteen, and you always leave a few minutes late, so you’re always late.  

But you have taken this part of your life and removed it.  Now, it is morning.  It is quiet in the house, and in the background, and out on the road in front of your house.  Morning is slow like this:  You get out of bed and go wake up your three-year old.  She cries for a minute because she is awful.  But finally, she agrees to brush her teeth and get dressed and it takes about fifteen minutes for the whole thing.  Your work clothes and your lunch were packed the night before.  They’re in your bike.  You’re ready to go.  

You buckle your daughter into the seat--it’s just right there, no trailer, no straps to deal with.  Just a seat belt.  You put her helmet on.  You wheel out the 2011 MADSEN, being very careful not to wake the rest of the family.  Even walking with it you can tell it wants to go fast.  It is so easy to maneuver, despite its size and capacity.  You sit on the saddle and push forward gently, letting the kickstand retract.  You point to a star that your daughter has identified as her star.  She says good morning to it.  And you go on a bike ride instead of driving to work.

You see bats.  You recognize their angled and jerky movements are different from the smooth yet exhaustive thrusts of a bird’s wings.  It’s just you’ve seen them so often.  Sometimes you see rabbits.  Each morning, you give your little girl these rabbits, and the bats, and enough sunrises for her to measure a lifetime of her own mornings.

You stop at a light where the slow and house-dotted roads you have been riding over intersect a large, arterial state road.  A white Nissan speeds past in front of you, zipping through lanes, running a red light and then halting a quarter mile to your right, where traffic is already backed up at another stoplight .  The sea parts.  To your left and to your right the cars all wait in line as you pedal through the intersection.  They are stopped tentatively, their drivers eager to get where they are going, but you are happy where you are. 


Now, check out the video!



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