I learned to bike when I was 18

I learned to bike when I was eighteen. I had gone on the University of Minnesota’s excellent study abroad program to Tianjin, China. It’s two hours south of Beijing by train.

The first week Charles Sanft, our Program Director took us to buy bikes for $20 apiece and told us that’d be our main transportation for three months.

My roommate Diana and I got up early every day to try and ride our bikes in circles in the pavement in front of the luxe dorm*, and circle after circle, we got it. For three months, this $20 piece of clever machinery carried me through the foreign streets of sweltering Tianjin, to shop in the markets for red, white, and pink shirts (I never seemed able to find other colors in women’s sizes), to the clubs with hydraulic dance floors and Qingdao beer cheaper than water. I’d pay a coin to the kid watching the bike parking lot, hop off and stroll into the internet cafes to write home and also to squint at the AOL news ticker bar at the top of the instant messenger to read the non-censored world news. I’d learn that it would be wiser to walk my bike home from the bar rather than bother riding recklessly late at night. ,It would take me back to the dorms and class* to gain(briefly)full literacy. Thus began my love of biking, and now I use it for commuting, watch for bike options when traveling, and gleefully burn the calories of delicious food I so savor via two wheels.

This story commemorates the close of May
Bike Month
in the U.S.

What’s your bike story?

Share in the comments below or via social media.

*In one Chinese language class, my professor had us read a story of a man riding a horse, who gets off his horse to ask for directions. This was meant to illustrate how to be polite if you stop your bike and need to talk to some one, and I still think of it to this day.

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