I was reading a blog post on Photo Shelter about bicycles at Burning Man. There were lots of great shots of owners with their wheels. At one point the author wrote something like, "San Franciscans have an ongoing love affair with their bikes."
Yes, he made a jump there somewhere, but I just rolled with it.
I would expand that statement to all of Northern California. Practically everyone I know has at least one bike, and most of them ride regularly. I have a 2006 Marin Redwood 22 at the studio that's perfect for errands and shopping.
Hanging upside down in the garage at home is a 2008 Cannondale Bad Boy XL that I've modified with 700c knobby tires and comfy palm rests. Indeed I'm smitten with both vehicles. The Cannondale is one of the last models still made in the U.S. before production was moved to Asia. It has a small American flag embossed on the frame.
The fact that I know so much about each of these models speaks directly to the love affair. But why do we care so?
It's actually hard to explain. I think it has something to do with life in Northern California. The combination of beautiful weather, outstanding scenery, and mind-numbing traffic are the perfect ingredients for cycling. Once I park the car in the garage at the studio, I don't use it again other than to go home or drive to a business assignment. Everything else is on foot or by bike.
I don't shoot while riding, but recently I've mounted an Olympus Air on the handlebars of the Marin Redwood. I've done so because in the past I've missed some shots because I didn't want to retrieve a camera out of my backpack. Now, it's right there. And I anticipate that I'll be posting images on Instagram from my daily riding.
All of that being said, there's still one more aspect to this passion: freedom. When I'm riding, I only depend on my two legs to get me there. I'm not beholden to oil companies, monthly payments, expensive repairs, or rush hour traffic.
I firmly believe that people who love their bikes also love their independence. And when you get right down to it, few things feel better than that.