Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

28 March 2015

Taking Cycling To Heart In Dixie

As Portland goes, so goes....Alabama?

April Fool's Day is on Wednesday, but I'm not putting in an early joke here.  You read the first sentence of this post right:  Some folks in Alabama are doing something folks in the Rosebud City--and Quebec--have been doing for some time.

Since you're reading this blog, you've figured out it's bike-related.  Indeed it is:  Today, the first Alabama Statewide Bicycle Summit brought together bicycle transportation and recreation groups, engineers, builders, planners--and state tourism representatives.

Cyclists in the  Selma 50 ride, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of  the march Martin Luther King Jr. led to Montgomery.  Photo by Mickey Welsh.

Yes, those reps were discussing bicycle tourism in the Heart of Dixie.  Now, I've never been there, but I'm told--even by people whose politics are well to the left of mine (Yes, there are such people!) that much of the state is quite lovely.  The few Alabamans I've met seemed like lovely people and, like neighboring Florida, it has warmer weather for longer parts of the year than most other states.

But those state tourism folks have figured out something their counterparts in Oregon and La Belle Province have learned:  making their state bike-friendly can be good for business.   A few years ago, Portland-based activist/writer/cyclist Elly Blue pointed out that 78 percent of visitors to Portland said the city's bicycle-friendly reputation played a part in their decision to travel there.  And, of course, numerous localities reap economic benefits from large, well-publicized rides such as the Five Boro Bike Tour in my hometown of New York.

So...Will it be long before we see a peloton whistling Dixie on their way through Sweet Home Alabama?  

27 March 2015

What Kind Of A Lesbian Cyclist Am I?

Five years ago, as I was recovering from my surgery, "Velouria" of Lovely Bicycle! suggested that I start a bike blog.  (Now you know who to blame!;-)) At the time, I had been writing  Transwoman Times for a bit less than two years.  When I started Midlife Cycling in June of 2010, I thought TT would run its course and I'd keep it online for posterity--or, perhaps, revisit it from time to time.

Well, nearly five years later, TT is still going.  I can't seem to let it go.  That may be because its focus shifted from my own experience of transitioning, surgery and starting my new life to LGBT-related subjects in general.  Not only that, I can't seem to keep trans (or L, G, or B) themes out of this blog any more than I could keep cycling out of Transwoman Times.  

Once again, those aspects of my life are going to meet--in this post.  You see, I came across something from The Most Cake, a blog by and about young and hip lesbians in London.  

While I've noticed a number of young lesbians and genderqueers (or people who simply don't fit into most accepted definitions of gender and sexuality) at bike-related events and establishments here in The Big Apple, it seems that there is a more prominent subculture of lesbian cyclists in the British capital.  At least, that's the impression I get from The Most Cake and from things I've heard from people who've been in London more recently than I've been. I can't say I'm surprised, really.  

Anyway, according to the author of the post that caught my eye, there are five distinct types of lesbian cyclists in The Big Smoke

1.  Aggressive girls in Lycra
2.  Eco-warrior on self-built touring bike
3.  Feminist cyclist with a cause
4.  Fixie lesbian with tatoos and piercings
5.  The catch-all lesbian cyclist who cycles because she likes it and it's better than public transport or walking or micro-scootering.

 They're on bikes. Sorry just found it we were like okay

Hmm...Had I been living as female earlier in my life, I definitely would have been 1, possibly 3 and/or 4.  Of course, if I'd started living as a woman when I was 20, I wouldn't have been wearing Lycra, as it wasn't yet available.  But I would/could have been the equivalent of type #1.  

If I had to classify myself today from any of those types, I'd say I'm number five, with some of number three thrown in.  And, perhaps, number two--after all, I've built a touring bike of my own and I try to do what's environmentally sustainable.

But I don't plan on getting any tatoos or any more piercings than I already have (on my earlobes).  Or to wear Lycra again, even if I lose weight.  But I do plan to keep on riding.  And, perhaps, I'll meet Ms. Right.

26 March 2015

Playing Hide-And-Seek With The Season

Compared to past winters, this one has been brutal--or, at least, especially dreary--and has seemed endless.  This putative beginning of spring feels more like a truce, one that can be broken at any moment, than a true end to the hostilities.

So far, I've done three rides that weren't commutes or related to some specific purposes. Even though I pedaled along streets, paths and boardwalks I've ridden many times before, those rides felt like discoveries and releases at the same time:  The tears that rolled down my cheeks were not only from the wind.

But somehow I feel I rode as furtively as the season slinking its way among bare branches piqued with buds not yet ready to open.  I am like a cat creeping, ready at any moment to scamper back into shelter.

The rides have been really good.  But I am anxious for the season to take root, for flowers to open and to ride expansively and endlessly.  Hopefully all of those things will happen soon.