Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Bicycle: A Liberating Vehicle

Here’s an article on the surprising freedoms brought about by the bicycle that had me laughing out loud as well as stunned by the attitudes prevalent less than 100 years ago. I ride for a variety of reasons, health, fitness, to clear my mind, but the primary motivator is the way it makes me feel. There is nothing like natural endorphin!

This past week I logged 105 miles on my bike without much thought to how fortunate I am to be able to ride – not just physically able but also from a socially acceptable standpoint. According to the article, in the late 1880’s, “Female cyclists were often accosted verbally and physically as they rode. Emma Eades, one of the first women to ride a bike in London, was attacked with bricks and stones. Men and women alike demanded that she go home where she belonged and behave properly.”

Now, I have had rocks, ice and beer cans thrown at me while riding but not for being a woman on a bike. I was simply an irresistible target to simple minded children riding in the back of a truck. Fortunately, the laws have changed and very seldom do I see kids in the bed of a moving truck, anymore.

It’s interesting that the bicycle is also partially responsible for changing the way women dress. To ride a bike, one had to wear a more rational outfit such as bloomers and not the customary long dress. I don’t know if my grandmother ever rode a bicycle, but she did mention that she played basketball in the early 1920’s in bloomers!

I owe so much to those that went before and fought to open up so many opportunities for me and others. What they went through seems unimaginable to me now days. I will never take another bicycle ride for granted!

1 comment:

  1. Interesting fact about early women bike riders. I didn't know they had to face that type of challenge/hostility.

    Bike riding is a great form of exercise and I think it will become all the more popular as gas prices continue to climb.

    I'd like to think I'm not simple minded, but I'm inclined to agree with their target being irresistible. ;-)