There are many different ways people use to get from Point A to Point B on campus. Many people use longboards (and look rightfully cool while doing so). I’ve also seen roller blades, a Segway, the handle-less version of a Segway that I don’t know the name of, and these wheels you straight up put on the soles of your shoes that I also don’t know the name of. Most people walk—but me? I bike. Terribly.To give you some more context, I don’t like long walks on the beach because the thought of prolonged physical activity for leisure is unfathomable to a lazy person like me, so coming to college—where you have to get where you need to go by foot, like, all the time—was kind of a shock. Thankfully, a bike would ease the pain and boredom of walking, right?
Like most first-years, I live on South Campus, which is at the bottom of a slope, so basically I have to bike uphill for classes, clubs, and so on. My bike also has only one gear, which makes pedaling uphill even more strenuous a task. I always mutter “Push! Push!” between breaths, struggling to push my foot down on the pedal to heave forward—gosh, giving birth probably isn’t as hard as biking uphill with one gear and gladiator sandals. By the time I arrive at my destination and fumble to lock my bike at a rack, my armpits are sweaty, my thighs are burning, my face is red, and I want to collapse and take a nap.
I not only have weak legs and low stamina, but I also have an incredible lack of coordination. I consider myself a cautious, safe driver in a car, but on a bike I am a threat to society. I’m sometimes careless enough to ride a bike on narrow sidewalks, on which I would crash into innocent passerby were it not for their quick reflexes. The edge of the sidewalk, where it meets the woodchips, is also a dangerous place—if my front wheel teeters over, I lose control and I’m flung off. Surprisingly, when people witness my clumsiness, either because I displayed it in front of them or because I almost collided with them, they smile (out of pity?), laugh (out of pity?), or say “It’s not a problem” (out of pity?). Well, I’m glad people here are nice.
The great thing about living at the bottom of the hill, though, is that the ride back home is always the easiest. Barely any pedaling is required. I sit up a little straighter, with more poise. I gaze at the scenery I couldn’t appreciate earlier, when I was almost dying from exhaustion. I glance at people and wonder about their lives, I make eye contact with others and wave hello. Near the end of my route, from Big Bridges to my dorm, my bike picks up speed—I tighten my grip on the handlebars and lean forward, my mouth widening into a toothy grin. The struggle, the sweat, the suffering uphill is all worth it for the exhilarating ride down.