Tag Archives: bicycles


There are so many bicycles here.  I mean, I knew that that lots and lots of people bike here in China, but seeing it is something else.

It’s amazing to see all the ways bikes are used.
There are tricycles with an open metal box in back; I’ve seen people pedaling with a propane tank rolling around, with shrink-wrapped cases of bottled water or Gatorade, even a stack of window panes.

At night you see couples biking home from dates, the girls perched side-saddle on the tiny rack behind the seat.  During the day it’s more likely to be a kid balanced behind a parent.

With so many bikes around, people start personalizing theirs.  My favorite are the ones with velvet seat covers and swaying fringe.  Bike repair shops operate on the sidewalk, surrounded by tires and spare parts.  On my walk yesterday I passed by at least three, each with a man crouched on the sidewalk working intently on a bike while its owner looked on.

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On two wheels

When I’m not traveling to faraway places, I really like riding my bike. It’s become my one go-to exercise. Last summer I did a triathlon, because I’m crazy and thought it would be cool. And it was. It was exhilarating to feel like Superman after swimming half a mile, biking 12 miles, and running 3.5 miles. But I’m not sure I’ll do one again, since I really don’t like running. I trained for about three months, and running was by far the hardest part.

So yesterday I went for a bike ride, and it was beautiful: sunny and warm (at least for February). Not too much traffic. I usually see at least one other cyclist on my ride, and I did. We usually wave or at least lift a hand tiredly to each other, in some sort of spandex solidarity. Yesterday’s cyclist didn’t.

I rode through a development right near where I grew up. It was built when I was maybe 14 or so, lots of big homes with aluminum siding and little square patches of lawn and stubby little driveways. A woman, about my age, got out of her car and carried groceries into her house. I thought, wow, here’s this woman about my age, and she has this enormous, expensive house out in the suburb. And I wasn’t a bit jealous. Sure, I’d like to own a home someday. But I’d rather own a funky apartment or condo in a city, maybe in a building with some history, where I can easily bike or walk or take public transport, where I don’t live from parking spot to parking spot, where I don’t have more space than I’ll ever use. I love my apartment now, my one-mile walk to work, the ease of stopping on my way home for some fresh veggies from a little market.


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