Friday, February 24, 2012

Celebrate The Freedom Machine

Forty years ago I began my rant: Car usage is overdone, we are addicted to the automobile and the apparent "convenience" of happy motoring. The oil companies/countries hold all of the cards and the noose will tighten. Driving is violence and we've become callous to fatality numbers as high as fifty thousand deaths a year...just in this country....and this does not include the cancers, lung diseases and effects from a quarter of a million injuries resulting from automobile accidents each year. A gallon of gas at the Terrible Herbst gas station on Shaw avenue in Fresno set me back 25 cents in 1972. That was the last gasoline purchase I made in the seventies. I scrapped my fire-prone Mercury Meteor in May of '72 and invested in a bicycle.
Jimmy Carter had it right in 1979 when he explained that the Middle East was holding US hostage, and maybe we shouldn't be in such a hurry to use up the Earth's account of dinosaur juice. Nobody wanted to hear it. Americans wanted a big dose of patriotic cheerleading, we wanted to hear that we were bad-ass invincibles, we voted for Ray-Gun the Conquerer. I didn't return to car ownership until Ronald Reagan was voted in for a second term...."I might as well help use it up," I reasoned.
It wasn't a major purchase, I bought Grandpa's '63 Chevy Nova for $1. We drove the snot out of that car...98,000 miles of California backroads while researching our California Dream Cycling guidebook. In 1998 we upgraded to a Jeep Grand Cherokee, a vehicle that could carry us over deteriorated highways after the "coming depression". In 2005 we re-Jeeped so that we could drive through the coming financial disaster and inevitable lack of road repairs....sure to be on the horizon...and now I have a 4WD Honda Element, a go-anywhere delivery van, beautifully sensible for errands run from Bodfish Bicycles, a shop we have orchestrated and composed as a livelihood for eighteen years now. During this period I have commuted by bicycle ninety-five percent of the time.
Of course, gas and oil are not getting any cheaper ($4.59 a gallon as I write this)...oh yea, I was going to wax brightly about my freedom machine. I love my bicycles, best bargain of a lifetime, I throw effort into my bicycle and it rewards me locomotion, birds singing all around me, a speed sensation that is earned but controllable and sweet, deep breaths and full circulation of life fluids to every extremity and all I had to do was hop in the saddle and rotate my legs. There are numerous roads and paths where you are not battling with motor-bullies. It's out there, right now. Wait for what you consider acceptable pedaling weather and get out there...rediscover the magic of self-propelled travel one more time and you are guaranteed less stress about these tumultuous times.

No comments:

Post a Comment