getting to know a city by bike
Last week, my good friend A. came into town from Portland. A. and I met during our early years of grad school, where we started going by the monikers ‘good twin’ and ‘bad twin’. While the good/bad dichotomy was more of a joke, the twin part definitely has a dose of truth to it in that we have a lot in common and see eye to eye on many things. One of those things is biking. When I visited A. in Portland for the first time in 2009, she offered to show me her city by bike.
It was a lot of fun and I got to experience first hand some of what makes Portland such a great city for cycling. The bike lanes alone were wonderful and we spent an amazing day riding around town with her little son in tow, stopping only to grab food, take pictures, enjoy a neighborhood farmer’s market, and give her then two year old a little play break on a playground.
I was still pretty new to cycling then but having a guide lead me and bike lanes that were separate from traffic made it a pretty non-intimidating venture. Then, when A. came to visit me in Munich, Germany in 2010, she rented a bike and we once more spent a day exploring the city on two wheels.
And so it came as no surprise when she asked whether we’d be biking on this, her most recent visit to see me. I wasn’t sure how willing she would be to ride given that A. is at the end of her second trimester of her pregnancy and every pregnancy is different. While it’s still felt good for me to ride, I don’t expect that everyone feels the same way. But A. was excited to get to know my town with a bike tour and I was happy to serve as a guide.
We first rode to campus where I could show A. where I worked this past year. Then we rode on to our city’s little downtown area, where I shared with her our local cupcakerie before proceeding to peruse some of the local stores and the maternity consignment shop, of course.
We even biked around with our bathing suits and towels in tow the whole time, thinking that we could stop at the outdoor community pool on the way home to cool off in the water, but we never made it that far. Instead, the day was over before we knew it and we rode home to meet up with T. for dinner.
It was so much fun getting to show A. where I live in a way that actually replicates how I live here. It’s also been nice to have this ‘constant’ despite the changing context of our lives; whether with a 2 year old, pregnant, in Europe, the West Coast, or Midwest, we’ve retained that simple schedule to our visits: hope on a bike and go see the town. Stop, grab coffee, talk, ride, then repeat. I look forward to many more ‘bike dates’ with A. this way. Thanks, twin, for a wonderful visit!