I was lucky to welcome the month of February with bare arms – not something that typically happens while riding a bike in February in Colorado. The ride got off to a slow start. What I thought was a defective valve core turned out to be a stubborn thorn embedded deep into my Gatorskin tire. Three tubes later, I was finally off for a joy ride.
Just a couple of miles into the ride, I approached an elementary school. I observed a very old car exiting a trailer parked in the school parking lot. Old cars tend to catch my eye and this one was almost like a buggy; I guessed that it was early 1920’s. I continued to pedal along on my way. Before long, I heard a car coughing and sputtering as I climbed a nearby hill. I looked over my shoulder and saw it was the buggy. I chuckled to myself as I pedaled along and continued to hear the buggy struggling up the hill. It occurred to me that perhaps that buggy was providing the soundtrack to how I felt (and potentially looked) on so many hillclimbs during my riding tenure.
As the buggy and I crested the top of the hill, the driver gave a blow of his horn. It was the kind that makes that “ah-oooh-ga” noise. You know that sound. As he went by, he shouted that he thought about racing me, but he couldn’t catch me on the uphill. It wasn’t until we started the descent that his buggy gathered enough speed to pull ahead. When he got in front of me, I saw his license plate. It had 4 digits on it: 1914.
I couldn’t find an exact image of the buggy, but this one is close. I guess he was out for a joyride, too. As he disappeared down the road, my mind was racing with thoughts of what biking must have been like back in 1914.
I envisioned the roads were primarily dirt and mostly not maintained. If that were the case, bikes were probably a better choice in getting from point A to point B. Interestingly enough, a quick google search shows that bike riders in the 1890’s were the first to lobby for road improvements. It wasn’t until 1914 when the American Association of State Highway Officials was created. This organization was where each state’s Department of Transportation began. Roads have certainly come a long way in just over 100 years. Yet they still have room for improvement. The bike, however, hasn’t changed all that much during this span of time. I’m just happy I don’t have to wear a dress when I ride.