Monday, May 16, 2022

So Long, And Thanks For All The Bicycles!

 Wow. It's 2022. Six years since last we met! Sorry for that.

Back in 2008 I was tired of always being stuck in my car- driving to work, driving 3 children everywhere, driving to the grocery store, drivingdrivingdriving, and never having time for anything other than driving. Life was stressful enough, and constantly being in the car wasn't making the situation better. My husband (you remember Hubby the Bikeman!) was finally back in stable employment after the god-awful post 9-11 tech crash, I was able to cut back hours in a career that was sucking me dry, and the world was waking up to the idea that life could be different. Living a slower, more deliberate life of lower consumption/more joy was grabbing hold, and I was spending a lot of time exploring the world of Slow Food (a movement that completely changed my world) and Buddhism (another exploration that changed everything). Suddenly, those searches were coinciding again and again with what was at that time called "Slow Cycling" (ironically, it stopped being called that pretty fast), and I kept stumbling on (the now defunct) "Amsterdamize" blog, by Marc Van Woudenberg (a lovely, funny man who will never know how much that blog meant to me). Repeatedly, while researching local food sheds and seasonal eating, my searches would turn up his photos and stories of people on giant, traditional Euro-style bicycles while wearing normal clothes, and not worrying about helmets or heart rates. They all looked content, and unhurried, and healthy. There were kids in bike seats eating snacks, and women wearing high heels, and panniers full of backpacks and groceries. 

I needed that. I needed that bad. 

I started with what I had- a 1988 Rockhopper Comp that I'd had since college, a crappy 8MP point and shoot, a brand new Flickr account, and a desire to try something different.

 And then I met Meli after stalking her at Bikes and the City.

Our first of hundreds of lunch dates, the
day CYLRAB became a
real thing.

Before I knew it, I had a blog, a new bicycle, my first good digital camera, and 2 more friends to share it all with- Calitexican, and Caryl!


The Calitexican!

Caryl from our LA bureau.

If you were around back then, you remember. The amount the world has changed since those days, which still had that 90's feel of possibility, is astounding!

We are now 13 years past those early days, and we are all in different lives. That adorable little boy who was always eating something in the seat on the back of my bicycle graduates from HS in a couple of months. My daughter (Meli's Mini Me) is a research scientist in regenerative medicine (commuting to her lab on an e-bike, looking fab the whole way). The oldest is an economist who advises the Governor of Colorado and is looking to buy his first home. Hubby the Bikeman is still fixing everyone's bicycles (something has to be a constant!).

The last few years have brought enormous changes in the lives of the CYLRAB women. We have collectively changed careers, returned to school, survived tragedies, bought homes, recreated ourselves repeatedly. For myself, l decided to formally study photography after having to leave my Physical Therapy career to care for both my family, and myself (something the blog showed me was possible). Autoimmune arthritis has changed how I do everything, and so many of the things I learned from my bicycle and creating the blog are what have made that process successful. I don't ride like I used to, and even typing this brief letter is hard on my hands, but I keep going!

And wasn't that the point of what were saying back then? It doesn't matter how fast you are, how fancy your bike is, how you ride, or how you look doing it. It matters that you show up, that you try, and that you love it. Bicycles were the vehicle in our message, but they were only ever a metaphor. 

After the end of next week, I am archiving CYLRAB. It's time to let go of this (officially), and embrace the things that are happening now. The world still needs us to ride our bicycles, maybe more than ever before. The world needs us to all change our lives! We started that together back in 2008, and now we need to find the next ineration.We thank you from the bottom brackets of our hearts (see what I did there?) for the years you shared your stories with us, and for joining us in ours.

Change your life! Ride a bike!