Just back from my first ride with Occupy Your Bike South Whidbey. With seven decades tread on my own two feet, I’ve been keen to try out a new-to-me electric bike I bought last fall from friends, Laurel Vogel and Christopher Diggins. Seattle Electric Bike owners, Stefan Schlesinger and Heidi Morford, who are the go-to folks here on South Whidbey, helped in refurbishing the bike and kindly gave me my first lesson and some useful tips. Since the weather has warmed, I’ve been going for short, safe rides. After all, my kids were still at home when I last rode a bike.
I still recall my Dad running alongside me at age 7, his arms extended front and back to give me the necessary sense of security as I got the hang of balancing on a two-wheeler. Of course, kids learn much earlier nowadays, and it’s hard to forget once you get the hang of it, but I admit to being a good 40 years out of practice.By the way, I want to mention Occupy Your Bike at Bayview Corner’s Earth Day in April: Nancy took me in hand, making sure I got current information about upcoming rides and potlucks. We stopped in at Half Link Cycle
to pick up a biking map, so helpful in scouting more or less challenging bike routes. I was making connections, building up courage to join them. Arriving at Ken’s Korner on Mother’s Day, I received such a warm welcome from the Occupy Your Bike folks, eager to help: John, Joel, Derek, Tatiana, and Phil. They invited me to add some “bling” to my bike. I wrapped a rainbow feather boa around my handle bars, strapped on my helmet and took my place in the line as we entered the narrow lane alongside Langley Road. No way would I be out there alone, but these folks led out and also had my back, kind of like Dad on my first try. Observing the handling of their bikes, the traffic and the road went a long way toward relaxing into the ride. A celebrat
ory arrival in Langley followed, only 7 miles and a few minutes later, with cheers all around, where we gathered for coffee with other Occupy Your Bike friends: Kurt, Sally, Linda, in the warming spring sun at Useless Bay Coffee Company
. Our group attracted biking enthusiasts, Lee, Drew and others. In true “Occupy” form, working groups based upon specific interests and tasks are springing up: Kurt is paying an Occupy Your Bike visit to the Langley City Council, tomorrow. I might tag along with my blingy bike. Tatiana and Derek have volunteered to look after the website, blog and, Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/OccupYourBike
). Phil showed-off a recent article and photo from the Whidbey Examiner
.The point is to foster community, encouraging riders of all ages to support a bike-friendly Whidbey Island. To that end, Occupy Your Bike has been choosing routes that are short and fairly flat. I’m still getting used to my electric bike but I found I didn’t need much of an assist from the motor. There was one downhill stretch where I felt a bit shaky and slowed way do
wn. Joel stayed at my back and those in front looped around, waiting for me to make the curve. Likewise, on our return, the group stayed together, looking out for each other.
I’d feel safer with wider, well-marked bike lanes. Better yet, separate bike paths supported and created by Whidbey residents would be a great incentive for more of us to ride. Yesterday’s drive up-island to Anacortes revealed a couple of interesting things: 1) actual bike paths starting from Coupeville to Oak Harbor, and 2) covers on gas station pumps that put me in mind of peak oil. Even with prices well over $4/gallon, these stations had run out of gas! Something tells me, I might be looking toward more than just recreational biking. And Occupy Your Bike is convincing more island residents to commute to their jobs in the Seattle area. They’re even working out “commuter pods,” bicyclists ferrying and riding into town together…a true 21st century biking culture!
Be sure to check out Occupy Your Bike events on the website: http://www.occupyourbike.org/#/eventscalendar/4561210282
See you at the potluck on Monday, May 21st!