I’ve written about carrying things on your bike. I have a pannier on my bike & while sometimes I want to remove it, quite often it’s indispensable. Here are some things I’ve been carrying in it.
- An extra tail light.
- A water bottle.
- Rain gear, because those summer storms come on quick.
- Lunch. I get a thrill out of riding over to Andy’s & Son’s for a big sandwich & then taking it back to the office. For an even bigger thrill, breakfast from Bread & Honey.
- A picnic blanket.
- Books. Groceries. Beer. Chips & dips for parties I’ve been invited to.
My panniers, & my bike, have become essential to my summer fun.
Lately I have been enjoying riding my bike at night. It doesn’t really sound like a big deal but let me tell you.
Right now it’s summer. Days are in the 80s & often muggy. Slogging a bike around in this weather is sometimes disgusting. But at night it cools down, occasionally by as much as 20 degrees. The breeze makes it even better.
I am usually one of the few, if not the only, people on bicycles that I encounter with lights. I’m going to curtail a rant here & just say that I know people can see me. Drivers & pedestrians alike. & I like seeing street signs flashing as they reflect my headlights, sometimes for blocks ahead of me.
There are fewer cars. This means I can be bold & take the lane. I don’t have to fight so hard for a place on the street. In some places there are no parked cars, which leaves blocks deliciously wide open.
& the people! They are fighting in the bushes on Delaware, kissing in the alley on Madison. They are sitting at a picnic table in Washington Park, their faces lit up by their smartphones.
& oh, the architecture! The college campuses. The old houses on Madison. The columns of the state buildings. The nooks & crannies of all those churches, all of them lit up like trophies. The Playhouse in Washington Park, at night in the summer, is a beautiful thing.
So ride your bike. There’s magic out there.
Riding back to the office on my lunch break I watch a woman on a bike. She’s on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street. At a red light I watch her veer through two lanes of cars. I cringe. She is now at least on the “correct” side of the street & heading in the “correct” direction, but she proceeds to blow through the red light.
This is not a rare thing. I see this kind of thing at least once per day. When I am of a mind to, counting cyclists invariably returns an overwhelming majority of bikes on the sidewalks & running red lights. This is just how we ride bicycles in Albany; like maniacs.
It occurs to me that, when I talk to people about riding a bike in this city, this is what they think I’m doing.
Biking around, parking is never a problem. I don’t have to fight with anyone for a parking space. I don’t have to pay for a meter, or a garage. I won’t get a ticket.
Sure, parking a bike isn’t always perfect. Sometimes you lock up to a bent fence, or a tree, or maybe the bike racks are where the cashiers hang out to smoke cigarettes.
But then there are those sunny Sundays when I ride to the park & every parking space is filled with a car or an SUV & I can just roll up to a picnic table & camp out for an hour or two. It’s a good thing.
Over the weekend I rode way out into the country. I was there, pedaling slowly through the rain, when I saw them. Two horses in field.
I stopped. There was the sound of the rain on my gear, my breathing, an occasional car hissing by. I moved my bike a little further off the road, put down the kickstand, & crossed to the other side. I pulled out my phone & took a picture, but then I just stared at them.
The rolling green hills, a hundred shades of a color that didn’t exist three months ago. Grass, curling lines of trees, the long stretch of a fence. & way out in the distance were two horses. A large brown one grazing. A smaller white one with a bright red-brown stain across its ribs. They looked back at me, then carried on.
The cars raced by, missing the moment.