Many people use the phrase “avid cyclist” to describe basically anyone who rides a bike for transportation. Alternately, an avid cyclist can be someone who puts on special clothing more than once a year and rides their bike for more than 10 miles in one day. And if you are someone who does both of these things, then you are definitely an “avid cyclist.” There are those in the bicycle advocacy world (such as Mikael Druker of the blog Psytenance) who do not like the phrase because they feel it marginalizes those who ride bikes:
…labelling those who willingly cycle as “avid cyclists” is a way of setting aside the difficult and interesting problem of how to make our cities conducive to cycling — in favor of the easy story of cycling as something “other”, as something done by people who aren’t normal. Why bother making the city a better place to cycle if the only people who will do it are the ones who are already cyclists?
Sure, okay. I guess I pretty much agree with that. Using the phrase as an advocate is not the best position.
But, I’m not sure if I’ll go to the step of banishing the phrase from my vocabulary, because sometimes it just fits. Within a few minutes of meeting me, I may be tempted to bore you with talk about cycling, bikes, infrastructure, and the overall indignity of bicycle parking. I’ve been commuting by bike for over a decade now, and for the last 8 years, I’ve done it in every type of weather imaginable. I also enjoy a long ride on my road bike, when I have the time. (I guess this blog is evidence of my cycling avidity as well). By all accounts, I am an avid cyclist.
I sold my car about 4 years ago, and since that time, I’ve tried to keep track of the miles of biked as well as the miles I travel by car. In the last 12 months, I’ve traveled approximately 3,100 miles by bicycle. But by zipcar, traditional rental car, or borrowing a friend’s car, I’ve traveled 4,200 miles driving and an additional 200 miles riding in a car as a passenger.
So, I guess I’m an avid driver, too.
As I approach Carfree-niversary #4, my goal for the next year of car-free living is to ride 3,650 miles in 12 months from August 2013 through July 2014. That would mean an average of 10 miles per day. I’m doing good so far, I rode my first century on August 5th, and along with my usual commute and shopping, I’m already at 150 miles of cycling. However, I’ve taken a few car trips too, and I’m up to 156 miles in that column.
It’s a beautiful day today, time to put in a few bike miles.