How old is too old for training wheels?
It’s just like riding a bike, they say. Unless you don’t know how to ride one.
My lack of know-how with the two-wheeled machine has deprived me of a core part of Santa Barbara. That is, bike culture.
You see bicyclists everywhere: On the streets, in da club (well, the SBCC Bike Club), in the sky (haven’t you ever seen “E.T.”?). Okay, okay, not literally everywhere, but you get the point.
Our town’s biking bubble includes frequently meeting groups like Neon Girls Cycling, Echelon Santa Barbara and Goleta Valley Cycling Club. You can learn to repair your bike at Bici Centro. You can ride in chariots (aka petty cabs) like ancient Greek warriors. There’s even The Handlebar, a new coffee shop with owners who drafted the European cyclist’s habit of relaxing in cafes into their business concept.
A bicycle-adept friend of mine argued that the culture of Santa Barbara is not much different from other places. Sure, we have reliable weather, a variety of terrain, a beach view, an increasingly bike-friendly environment and a multitude of enthusiasts. But, he says, bikers are united in all locations with the same uses and goals.
Most people bike for practical reasons like freedom, energy conservation, exercise, endorphin production, cost-efficiency and socializing. Others just want to look cool.
The unique style of our city’s culture culminates in celebration with Bike Moves every first Thursday, with a different theme every month. On one such occasion, cowboys gathered for a rodeo…on bicycles instead of horses. They giddy-upped throughout State Street. Lassoing ensued on Stearn’s Wharf to a crowd full of yee-haws.
I want to be part of this so badly. I could run in my cowboy boots to try to catch up with them. But I’m too lazy. Also, it would be physically impossible.
It’s not that I’ve never learned how to ride a bike. It’s that I never remember how to. I grew up in a commuter environment where cars were the only means of getting from A to B on a daily basis. I never had a consistent need to develop my bicycle skills. So I didn’t.
I stopped trying to learn when all of the seven-year-olds in my neighborhood park guffawed at my 15-year-old training-wheeled self.
Now, every time I picture myself riding a bike, I see Anne Hathaway getting smashed by a truck in “One Day.” A bit morbid, I know, but at least I look good when I hypothetically die.
I am no dare-devil. I am also quite uncoordinated. I aim to steer clear (har-har) of falling off, getting hit or going downhill, all of which seems inevitable upon mounting a steel structure with wheels.
And yet many a wise person has echoed the truth that anything worthwhile in life requires risk. This, interestingly, is also the truth of many a drunken partygoer.
I guess it’s time to don those training wheels again at my tender age of 20. Maybe I can convince people that it’s just a hipster trend. There are hipsters in Santa Barbara, right?