Wednesday, April 30, 2014

4/30 - Eulogy to The Heartbeat and Rhode Island


Before I learned to drive, I’d always ridden passenger in the bubble of a car and blasted through RI on the interstate. Even after I was licensed at the relatively ripe age of 24, I had little interest in driving. I was an urbanite and a walker and, to me, if my two feet plus public transit couldn’t effectively get there, it wasn’t worth going anyway. It wasn’t until I finally caved to RIPTA’s shortcomings and picked up my 50cc Buddy that I found another way to explore.

From the seat of the scooter, I was quite literally exposed to new places, and people as well. I didn’t just move through scenery, I felt it on my skin in the change of temperature or humidity, or under my feet, most often in the form of potholes. I smelled it through the helmet, heard it all around, and was in the midst of wherever I went. To accommodate the reduced speed, I took less common routes. I couldn’t help but explore and be engaged, instead of just getting from point A to point B. On the Buddy, I found pockets of RI that I’d never imagined, or wouldn’t have given thought to beyond a name on a map. It’s hard to believe I’d lived in RI for almost 3 years before discovering that East Greenwich is actually a cute town, and Warwick has a historic center that isn’t a shopping strip. In retrospect I feel a bit shameful, but riding opened my eyes.

Harley rider inspects my vehicle in Warwick in the shade. We chatted a bit and watched the waves.

I’ve since graduated to larger vehicles that are comfortable swallowing up miles on the Interstate, but the perspective I picked up from riding the Buddy around little Rhody sticks with me.

From my roller derby days.

In a way, I wonder if I ride because that’s how I came to exploring. Perhaps if I had a bought a car instead, I’d feel the same. I think to some extent I probably would, but I doubt driving a car would have had the same impact on me. There are elements to riding that just don’t fit into a cage, and I feel all the more richer for stumbling into the habit.

Summer, and early Instagram filters.

I may be leaving soon, but Rhode Island will always be the place I learned, and The Heartbeat the vehicle on which I started.

Making new friends at Oakland Beach.

Until we meet again.

1 comment:

  1. Love this. I've been thinking along similar lines now that I'm living in Oakland -- wondering if now is the time to start learning how to be an urban bicyclist. I have been on a bike a total of three times since middle school, if I remember right. But after walking three miles the other day because buses were soooo slow I decided to just foot it most of the way, biking is sounding like a good option.