Wednesday, December 06, 2006


"I hate bicycling with you," said Big Dog to me last night. We had just come back from Diamond Head. It was a wonderful short ride in the late afternoon -- gorgeous pink and blue sky, breathtaking views from the edge of Diamond Head. The ride up was not as steep as I thought it would be and the ride down was….wheeeeeee! I thought it was a wonderful ride, but I guess BD didn't. "You always go too fast. The whole point isn't to get from Point A to Point B as fast as you can. And then you ride in the street. It's dangerous. Why can't you ride on the sidewalk?"

Our local friend N. loaned us a couple of old bikes for us to tool around town in when we first got here and it's been great to have wheels here in Honolulu. The entire island is not that big and in Honolulu, you can easily go anywhere by bike. Big Dog is using the mountain bike and I have N's old road bike that he used to ride in Tokyo. It's a cute red junker, with only one gear shift and a slightly loose chain, so I basically use it as a one speed, though if I had tools, I'd fix the thing for N.

The thing with road bikes is that you HAVE to go a certain speed. It's like having a Ferrari and driving 30mph all the time. The Ferrari's not going to like it and neither are you. What is a nice, easy, sauntering pace for me, is "too fast" for the Dog, I guess. Sometimes when I ride behind him, I have to slow down so much I can hardly keep balanced! That might be a fun game, but is definitely not my riding style.

"Well, I don't like riding with you, either," I finally admit out loud. The bicycle has been my main mode of transportation since I was…well, almost as long as I can remember. In Tokyo, it's not only kept me out of rush hour commuter trains and all the germs they carry, but has kept me out of traffic snarls, getting me from destination to destination in the least amount of time. Late for an appointment? Pedal harder. Perfect vehicle for a control freak like me. Plus, there's just something anarchic about cycles.

Since getting our bikes here, every time Big Dog and I went anywhere by bike, I had to ride slower, do more stunts (like riding on sidewalks, going the opposite direction from traffic, etc.) than I was comfortable doing and I'd think, "Oh, give me a real cyclist to bike with!" But I had kept these thoughts to myself. Until now.

"You ride on the sidewalk. Don't you see the "no bicycles allowed" signs everywhere? Sidewalks are for pedestrians. It's like riding an obstacle course, slowly, when you ride on the sidewalk. We're supposed to be on the road. And how can you enjoy cycling when it's stop and go, stop and go all the time?"

"You're not a driver so you don't know how much you can't trust them. If I collide into a pedestrian, it'll only be a few bruises, but on the road, you could be road kill."

I don't want to be road kill, but the thought of running into a pedestrian in this liability-crazed country freaks me out just as much. "The cars have to learn to share the road. But they DO need more bike lanes here." (In fact, though, they have more bike lanes here than Tokyo, which I think has zero -- at least not as part of the road, though I've been on bike lanes created from pedestrian walkways. And they have these cute bicycle shaped objects that are simple bike racks.)

Bicycling in Hawaii shouldn't be irritating. The air is sweet, the distances easy and roads are in good condition. So, like the sensible Virgos we are, Big Dog and I decided we'd stop riding together. Now, I can really cut loose. Heh heh.


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