The Chainlink

What does your family think of your life as a cyclist?

I'm mostly a city commuter and I know my dad is nervous that I am going to get hit by a car while I'm biking. I explain to him that more people my age are killed in car accidents than bike accidents.

My 7 year old suburban nephew thinks I'm cool cause I don't use my car often. He is quickly becoming a bike fanatic too!

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Most people can't understand why I'm acting like I'm acting like I've never rode a bike since I started riding last year (I think they think "yeah, I've been on a bike before...what's the big deal that you want to do that all the time?) Since I think it's safe to say most of us had one as kids, we tend to down play how great an experience it can be to ride as an adult too, since I'm not sure you really appreciate it when you're's not like you have to fit it in your day. I've also had to break up with a few people because they were jealous of Gary (Fischer) YES, you heard me right. Oh well, Gary and I are having quite the romance.....I've told along....I like riding Gary better anyway.
As with everything else, my family doesn't always get it but they're very supportive and worry about my safety.

ALMOST got Mom back on her bike this summer. Showed her how to change a flat and had her ride around the block... she's planning to get a new bike next year and is already pumped for city rides with me. Aww! My dad's into golf... heh. Extended family lives *near* metropolitan areas so none of them are really sure what riding a bike in the city means, but they're pretty sure it's crazy.
my father doesn't understand why anyone would want to ride a single speed or fixed bike and is constantly asking me why i want a nice bike in a city and not a mountain bike. my mother thinks i am going to become paralyzed by getting hit by a car.

otherwise they are just glad i have fun.
My parents neurortically worry about me riding my bike all the time. They also play the guilt card about my dragging my kids around by bike. That said, my husband is very supportive and my kids love it.

You are my hero...seriously Jane.

Jane said:
My parents neurortically worry about me riding my bike all the time. They also play the guilt card about my dragging my kids around by bike. That said, my husband is very supportive and my kids love it.

I love this thread cause it's like all of our "Coming Out" stories! ;-) All cause we ride a bike. Such an odd thing. :-)
Not really any family issues: dad biked to work most of my growing up at least some of the time, mom biked to classes and around the neighborhood also. One sister was into the whole Eddie Merkxx phenom., helped that we lived in Belgium for a year during his prime.
Wife also bikes lots, and we both bike w/the kids.
Family does worry about the accidents (and i've had a few) but then again, since i'm the "baby" (45 now) they were used to worrying about me. I don't think they obsess about injury, we all have medical things to worry about if we chose to.
My dad simply tells me to be careful but he secretly thinks my obsession is fun. My mom doesn't understand how anyone can commute entirely by bicycle, especially the older they get. She thinks it's kinda cool that my job involves biking around the city but is still terrified I'm going to get fucked especially since i don't have health insurance. Understandable. She does, however, love the idea of critical mass. My sister thinks cycling caps are "gay looking."
My immediate and extended family all seem to understand that car-free is a viable transportation lifestyle in the big city.

Mom worries, but she works in a hospital so she knows that driving is much more dangerous. The ER is full of car wrecks, not bike wrecks. She lives in Phoenix now, and I think that's given her a good understanding of the urban design and infrastructure differences that make our cities so different from each other (and from Rochester, NY, the small city where she raised me & my brother). I think she would like to bike more herself, for health, but Phoenix just isn't the place to do it.

Also, I always call her from my bike whenever we get our first snow. I know she misses winters, and I think she's really impressed by my winter biking, and thinks its really cool. She doesn't have a lot of stupid questions about winter biking, and she's been really great about getting me exactly the right underwear and winter gear I ask for, for xmas and birthday gifts.

My brother is a bit of a nature lover and thinks of Chicago as this big, dirty, city disconnected from the natural world... But there he is driving his car all over Portland and working to build highways in Oregon. So who has the smaller carbon footprint and greener lifestyle? For retail and socializing and as a dog owner, he does do a lot of walking in his neighborhood; or he'll drive the dog out to some trails somewhere and hike for miles. But I also see him using his car all the time for trips under 2 miles, which to me is crazy. Despite Portland being such a bike friendly city, he just doesn't do it. I think he's just, philosophically, a walker, not a biker. So he's a walker who drives a lot and builds highways for a living.

As for the the cousins, aunts, and uncles back in Rochester, I know they understand you don't need a car to live in the big city, but I don't think they can comprehend the scale of things. They've seen the apartments on Seinfeld and Friends, but those shows don't demonstrate what it's like to get from A to B by bike or train. When I explain that there's Umpty-seven bars and restaurants and almost all of my friends within a 1/4 mile radius of my apartment, I think they can only picture Fifth Avenue in New York, or Bob Newhart stepping out of one Chicago skyscraper and walking to another. Three flats and walk ups and courtyard buildings and lakefront high rises just don't exist as housing options where I'm from, so imagining whole neighborhoods full of them must be difficult.

I had some cousins visit and borrow bikes for their stay. Seeing the insides of all my friend's apartments and condos was an eye opener for them. We're not all living in tiny, overpriced New York City studios, and my 4 mile bike commute through Chicago city neighborhoods is very unlike the 4 mile bike ride through Midtown Manhattan they might have imagined.
I think my parents respect this decision, like a lot of others I have made. My sister was biking some to her new job til her husband took some parts of her bike to fix his. They do own four cars though.
My mom thinks moving to Chicago is turning me into some sort of liberal heathen and this "bike riding phase" is just more evidence for her argument. She's ridiculous, but I don't let it bother me to much.
My dad thinks its awesome though! He's become interested in the environment and he always supports healthy habits. Last month when he visited for the weekend I found a spare bike for him so we could avoid taking the cta everywhere. He really got a kick out of it and is now shopping for his own bike. Neato.
my life as a cyclist.....

hmm, i dunno. in 1985 the family took a vacation to copenhagen, Denmark, and nearby-ish Gothenburg, Sweden. The trip was mostly because my brother was in a soccer tournament, plus the folks wanted us boys to get some culture, as dad was in the navy and was all over the place as a kid. Anyway, we saw stuff like cargo bikes, walking streets, and women with hairy armpits. did i mention that there were tons of bikes around?

when i was a teen we had a cousin that was an aspiring racer, i think hes still car free, just doesnt say anything about it.

i always played around with mechanical shit too, so when i started messing around with bikes my pops would bring flea market beauties home for me to tinker with, etc. hes supportive.

i guess the answer to what they really think is: "big deal, it is what it is. at least you're not some drugged up lush like the kids you ran with in school"

funny story though: i got a call from my pops the day that guy crashed/died at irving/damen/lincoln cause it was on the news. he asked me if i did any of those underground alleycat bike races. i says "nah dad, that stuff is for kids and lunatics, and im too old to be a kid."



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