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To bike or not to bike

When I first started thinking about what in the world I could be writing about in a blog on Santa Barbara, all I could think about was bike stories.

I am not sure what exactly it was that tied my ideas about blogging so closely to my cycling experience. Maybe it was that, when I was riding my beautiful turquoise beach cruiser around the city, I actually had some spare minutes to do nothing else but randomly think about the world (and of course, pedal). I admit that - although I prefer the environment-friendly exercise of moving around on two wheels to the convenient mobility that comes with a car - I actually find biking quite boring. Especially when it's your same old route twice a day (home - bus transit, transit - home). When I was still in High School (my German one), I had to bike to a train station that was 15 minutes away from our house. At that time, I actually started talking to myself. That's how bored I was.

Compared to that, Santa Barbara is pretty harmless. Mostly, I have to concentrate on the steep hills, so either I am busy pedaling backwards (for breaking on a beach cruiser) or (in case I am going uphill) I am too out of breath to keep up a decent conversation with myself.

So my mind usually doesn't wander very far. Because I am already on my bike, the wandering often only takes me to the odds of Santa Barbara traffic. As soon as I am starting to think about something of slightly more value (like, What am I going to write about in my next blog entry?), I am right back to the biking stuff.

I might, for example, think about the strange way Santa Barbara drivers are treating me as a biker. They will, to my great surprise, always grant me the right of way. And by always I mean always. At a four-way stop, all four cars usually wait until I, on my bike, take the time to arrive last only to be the first to cross the intersection. But even when a sign tells me to officially stop because of passing traffic in front of me, some cars are still so frightened at my sight that they will come to a full halt in the middle of a broad and busy street - to grant the properly waiting me the right to cross. I don't get it: It's not that Santa Barbara drivers are not used to bikers. I was actually quite surprised how many people here own a bicycle and use it too. In Ohio, for instance, I never saw a single person on two wheels. My guess is that drivers are terrified of hitting you and having to pay for your wheelchair until they retire.

Of course, at the very moment when I finally got used to being treated like the queen of the street who could ride her bike like a maniac because everyone would stop for her anyways - at that very moment and in the middle of the Old Mission four-way intersection, one lady driver actually stuck to the rules, waited for her proper turn to go, expected me to wait - and almost ran me over.

Anyways, these are the things I think about when I am riding to the bus transit or a coffee shop or the grocery store. So, naturally, when I first flirted with the thought of writing a blog for the Independent, my sole idea for the storyline consisted of my encounters with Santa Barbara street life. I suggested this to my editor and was convinced he would find the literal culture "crash" quite intriguing. He looked at me, nodding; then suggested I should write about porn alright.

I never mentioned the biking again although I couldn't help but think about street stories all these past months. Last week, I found a reason to incorporate my bike into my blog after all. Or, to be exact, the very absence of it. My loyal companion was stolen from the beach. No, let me rephrase that: It was ripped apart, dismembered beyond recognition. Now that I no longer rule the streets, I finally feel compelled to write the blog entry that started it all.

Isn't that ironic.

Biker's Pride.

Biker's Sorrow.

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