In my efforts to avoid Metro and breathe in the fresh Washington, D.C., air as much as possible, I’ve started riding Capital Bikeshare more frequently. Bikeshare is awesome! I just run over to the station nearest me, plug in my key to get a bike, yank the bike out as hard as I can, and off I go. All rides 30 minutes or less are included in my $75 annual membership.
Now, riding a Bikeshare bike is not an overly cool riding experience. These bikes are no Rivendells, ok? They have no real pep, and feel like bikes a child just graduated from training wheels might ride. A Capital Bikeshare steed is a lumbering three-speed beast that toddles along steadily with me atop it until I get to wherever I’m going. The wide foam saddle fits awkwardly below me, making me long for my Brooks saddle.
There is a lot that makes CaBi tranportation cool, though. The bikes are well-maintained and get me where I’m going. They have a nice spot in front where I can secure my bag so no hauling stuff on my back. Fenders and a mighty chainguard protect my clothes from debris.
With CaBi stations near my home and my office, I can make a spontaneous decision to hop on a bike and head off somewhere not directly along a Metro line, but easily within reach of a CaBi station. I can turn a 45-minute walk into a 15-minute ride. Today, I decided not to risk pedaling in because I didn’t know the road conditions. This afternoon, though, I used CaBi for my trip to the grocery store. I then rode another one home. So convenient.
Riding CaBi is also liberating to me in an unexpected way. When I’m riding one of my other bikes, I like to have a certain look. I admit it! (Some of you might be able to relate to this. Your own personal look, not mine!) I feel like I should look a little competent. No crooked helment. Color coordinated. Lots of wool base layers and Ibex. Sidi’s. Enough bike-specific gear to look like I know what I’m doing. Something to keep my pantleg from being eaten up by the chainring.
When I’m on CaBi, that stuff doesn’t matter one bit. Today, I wore a long wool coat, big blue hat, wool pants, and Danskos. No need for SPDs or my Sidi’s. CaBis have flat pedals! Cycling apparel on a CaBi bike? Why? Nothing I wore on my commute was bike-specific, except for my helmet.
The other liberating aspect of riding CaBi is that nobody puts any expectations on me about my bike riding. Crooked helmet? Ten miles an hour? Work clothes instead of cycling-specific attire? Who cares! I’m on a CaBi bike. I just got my training wheels taken off!