I never saw so many folks dismounted along the W&OD Trail as on Memorial Day, about 10 days ago. Some appeared to have flat tires, others were doing other kinds of repairs, or had equipment or clothing problems, or were just resting. A couple of somewhat heavy-set people were walking bikes up “hills” whose gradient couldn’t have been much more than 3%. There was probably one such situation every mile and a half, on average, for my 25-mile ride.
I am guessing that many who were out that day were not regular bikers, but were doing something that families and friends are supposed to do on holidays, getting “out and about,” doing something healthy with a group. So just as there are “C & E Christians” (Christmas and Easter) who only attend church twice a year, there are “M & L Cyclists” (Memorial Day and Labor Day) who only get out a handful of times on holidays.
So they amble out to the garage on the fateful morning, give the bike a cursory dust-off, figure “heck, I pumped up the tires last time I used the bike [last September, that is], so it’s good to go.” Or they remember “I oiled that chain once since I bought the bike, and I’ve hardly ridden it.” They forget, as I’ve said before, that before riding one should check out all their equipment very carefully, and also the bike, because things may have gotten loose or out of alignment. And they figure that anyone who’s 45 years old can ride a bike a few miles.
And then, like Emma’s Mrs. Elton at the strawberry-picking party, they find that their idealized notion of what’s involved with the activity withers rather rapidly with the heat, the exertion, and (in the case of cycling) the real consequences of not maintaining one’s machine.
However, as an avid proponent of cycling for everybody I hope the good aspects of their experiences outweighed the bad, and that they’re on the trail many times again before Labor Day rolls around. The more the merrier.
©Arnold J. Bradford, 2012.