A Declaration of Love

©2014, Glenn Jones/Ikona Photography

©2014, Glenn Jones/Ikona Photography

I admit it, I Love my Bike. 

Don’t think of a noun when you hear me say Bike.  Think of a verb.  Think of state of mind, a compulsion, a lifestyle, a passion.  Think about Love.  

It caught me by surprise, as Love has a way of doing.  And I was quite resistant to the idea of anyone Loving an inanimate object, much less letting it happen to me.  But, there I was, fixing a flat tire on my kitchen floor when I began thinking of it as a labor of Love. And it hit me, I was overcome with emotional feelings towards my Bike.  I knew this feeling, having fallen in Love before.  But it was no less overwhelming. It would be grease on the chain for me to tell you I began sobbing on the floor cuddling my wheel like I’d found myself at last, but it didn’t happen that dramatically. Sorry to disappoint.

I admit, while some people really do LOVE and objectify their physical Bicycles (my friend Cynthia recently called this Holy Bicyclism – the worship of frames and carbon fiber and sleek design, etc), I am more in Love with the idea of my Bicycle.  It’s not the old, heavy, steel Panasonic frame and basic tires and mismatched components and shiny rims (just because I recently got a squeaky-clean tune-up) and old-fashioned shifters that make my palms sweaty and my heart race, but rather any Bike I can call my own, even if it’s a borrowed Bike for a 5-minute ride.

My Bike is waiting for me after work every day to take me home, and though work is usually only 1.5 miles from home I still enjoy that transition ride to or from my awesome apartment in Midtown Sacramento to my job(s) right by the California State Capitol. My Bike takes me on dates for miles and miles along the American River Parkway and picnics two miles away at Camp Pollock and dinner less than a mile from home at Coconut Midtown and even the six [sometimes treacherous] miles to Habesha Ethiopian Restaurant in Arden Arcade to visit my lovely friend who owns the place. 

And my Bike doesn’t get jealous or selfish when that date is with a person - the ride is no less enjoyable if I have to pedal at another’s pace. My Bike takes me shopping at Grocery Outlet in midtown and to pick up my CSA box each Friday.  My Bike takes me shopping at the local thrift stores (I love the SPCA thrift store on E street in Midtown, Thrift Town on El Camino Avenue, all the Goodwills in Arden Arcade, and even the Boutique-y Goodwill on L Street Downtown), to church at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral (just 1.5 miles from home), to my doctor appointments, to casting calls and fashion shows, and it is always reliably waiting for me when I’m ready to leave.  Let’s leave out the part where my Bike could get stolen, ok?  We have a healthy relationship, my Bike and I.  My Bike takes care of me, and I take care of her. While we depend on each other at a certain level, I’m happy when I’m with my Bike but I don’t make myself sick missing my Bike when I’m not in the same room with it. Yes, there are people out there who sleep next to their Bike.  They have their reasons.

My Bike and I fit together. We’re used to the feel of each other – you know, that familiar fit and feel of a person with whom you’ve become close.  Your scents mingle, you can pick up where you left off after a hiatus, and every movement feels smooth and natural and free and open.  It takes work, yes, but it doesn’t feel like work because you enjoy it. 

I’ve built a life with my Bike.  Yes, I could live without it, but what would my life be like? Not as full, not as complete, not as whole, mentally.  But, physically? Without a Bike? I don’t even want to think about it.  I shudder at the thought of my body being stationary, immobile, unable to MOVE.

My Bike IS how I live; my Bike is how I Love.  It’s not the kind of Love that goes away. It’s not romantic Love.  It’s not like Loving your dog or your cat or even your medication because it prolongs your quality of life, but my Bike does do that for me.  I can’t say it’s like Loving a person that reminds you why you are worth it, but my Bike totally makes me feel worth it. It’s a separate, self-aware Love that is actually created by ME.  I’m the reason I Love my Bike, because I chose to live my life with my Bike as my companion.  Make no mistake, I still desire the Love of a human partner – and I even hope to one day share that Love of my Bike with someone else, from “I Love my Bike” to “We Love my Bike” – because anyone who Loves me will be expected to Love all extensions of me.  My Bike is an extension of me.

Falling in Love is scary.  You learn a lot about yourself.

Falling in Love is amazing.  You learn a lot about yourself.

And when it hits you, it doesn’t wait for you to be ready.  When are we ever ready for Love?

I’m in Love with my Bike and you’re the first I’ve told.  Happy Bike Month!

Charis Hill

Charis is a car-free bicycle advocate, healthcare advocate, and fashion model living in Sacramento, CA. A native North Carolinian and graduate of Meredith College in Raleigh, NC with a B.A. in Sociology (minors in Psychology and Women's Studies), she has lived in Sacramento since late 2011. Charis lives with a severe, progressive, autoimmune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis; her bike keeps her moving which is crucial to maintaining her current quality of life.