On Friday, August 19 Women Bike PHL, with the collaboration of Neighborhood Bike Works, hosted an event called Bike Stories. This was an open mic-style sharing event for people tell stories about bikes and their experience on bicycles!
The range of story tellers was about 13-40 years old and the stories varied in their themes; from growing up in the suburbs and having the freeing experience discovering biking, to boys bullying you on your bike, to falling in love with someone on a bike — but mostly just falling in love with bikes.
The stories were moving and funny and sad and sweet. Thank you to everyone who came out and everyone who shared.
Thank you especially Neighborhood Bike Works for hosting us! If you want to check an example of a story shared, I’ve transcribed mine below.
I am in love with my bike. No, really. I consider myself to be going steady with my bike. I spend a lot of time with my bike and I’m always excited to see it. There have been other bikes in the past, but none of them really stuck. This is the bike I consider my one and only.
I started biking really seriously the fall after my sophomore year of college, which had been particularly rough for me. So rough in fact, that I wasn’t returning to school. I’d had some unfortunate series of events including a cheating boyfriend I’d stayed with too long and a suicidal roommate that had stayed too long at our pressure cooker of a school and it’d all blown up and with it my sense of stability and confidence and left a lot of fear about my life and relationships and a whole lot of hurt.
So I found myself in Portland, Oregon, taking some real time away. I biked everywhere. I found myself all over the city constantly moving. My bike helped me regain independence, confidence, a form of stress management, and what I’m more thankful for, a sense of joy. Biking is just so fun. It let me feel like a young person again and feel the wind and enjoy the sun (what little there was in Portland). Actually, mostly in Portland, I found myself biking in the rain. Out of the 8 months I lived there, I would say there were 10 sunny days and that might be generous. I felt like I was always wet, even with all my rain gear. I started to think moss was going to grow on me if I stayed much longer. I now associate rain with biking and the joy of bikes.
When I came back to Philadelphia, my bike came with me. Earlier this summer, on my way home from Penn, I walked outside to find that it was pouring. The type of rain you can’t even pretend to try to shelter yourself from without going inside. It was hot out, so the rain was warm too and I felt like I was taking a shower. I started biking and the rain started coming down harder. I was completely soaked through and my pants were sticking to me and they felt like wet paint on my legs. I would hit puddles and more water would splash up. Cars drove by and splashed more water over me.
Every time I thought I had maxed out on how dripping wet I could be, another wave of water would prove me wrong. But it was so fun, euphoric even. I was biking as fast as I could and smiling and laughing every time I hit a new puddle. It’s one of my favorite memories from the summer. Giving into the experience and just enjoying it for what it is. So yeah, I’m in love with my bike. Every night I take it inside my house and into my room to keep it safe. I look at it each night before I fall asleep and whisper, “sweet dreams” into the darkness because that bike has been there for me on sad late night rides from a fight with a boy to early mornings where I didn’t think I could face another day. So yes, I love my bike.
Tomorrow, I’m going back to college and I finally feel ready. I feel strong and excited. And yes, my bike will come with me.