I drive a 1999 Ford F-250. Big truck. I initially bought it because I lived an hour from Des Moines, deep in rural Iowa - like almost 9 miles of gravel road from my little white house on 10 acres to the nearest paved road.
But now that I live in the city, the truck is overkill. I like the comfort of the cab (being 6' 3", I need ample head and leg room), but it's just too much.
When I lived on the acreage, I once got the truck stuck in the back of the property and was mid-wheel high in mud. Oh, the luxury of four-wheel drive. I cranked that V-10 Triton engine and had all four wheels muscle their way out of the mud. Hoo-ah. But, it came at the expense of my alignment. I messed up something in the front end. I had a mechanic do a few things to it and the truck drove fine, but the steering wheel was cockeyed.
Fast forward three years and I'm in the city. A few weeks ago, I noticed a weird grinding noise coming from the truck. At first, I thought it was pebbles in my hubcaps or something, but no, it's the front end. Related to the alignment problem and the mudbath from long ago? I don't know, but something's awry.
So yesterday I threw my bike in the back of the truck and drove to my favorite mechanic, a guy named Larry Rogers. Good work. Honest. And no relation to me.
"Larry, my truck needs a checkup."
"I'm here to help."
"Here's the keys."
I pulled my bike out of the truck bed and Larry raised an eyebrow. "You know how hot it is?" he asked me.
"Beautiful day for a bike ride."
"West Des Moines. Maybe 5 or 6 miles."
"Hey, my bike is more reliable and less expensive than that thing," I said, pointing to my truck.
"Suit yourself," he said, laughing. "But your truck has air conditioning!"
The ride home was fabulous. I rode through Greenbelt Park on its bike path. Loads of shady trees and a lovely brook that runs parallel to it. You'd never know that you were smack-dab in the midst of the city if someone just set you down there. And so I rode, finally leaving the park and angling through a ritzy subdivision and then pedalling down the street that led to my home.
If I could get away with it, I wouldn't own a car (or van or truck). I hate driving. I'd much rather take my bike. If you asked me what it is about a car that I don't like, I'm not sure I could tell you. Maybe that they feel dirty and wasteful to me. Convenient, sure, and even necessary, but obese America isn't helped by its love for the automobile. Maybe that sounds silly coming from a guy who weighs 328 pounds.
But a bike is simple. It's freeing. I even like pedalling in a rainstorm. I hope that I always live close enough to where I work that I can ride my bike. And so, for the next few days until Larry figures out how many hundreds (or, gulp, thousands) of dollars I'll owe for him fixing the big green truck, I get to live in a world where my sole transportation is my bike.