Low Riding: bicycles and the fall of America

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Not that many years ago I was riding my road bike with a friend east of Bend. We were headed single file down a long straightaway when a spiffy Mercedes C Class sedan came speeding by at what seemed like 75MPH and about four feet from us.

Seconds later, the Mercedes stopped at an intersection and the woman driver got out and began screaming at us as we approached. Such words that came out of her mouth. She used all the George Carlin words that can't be used on television and then some.

My riding partner and I tried to figure out what we'd done to cause such ire. Turns out we had done the unpardonable-we were riding bicycles on public roads.

A much as the local bike crowd loves to think of Bend and Central Oregon as bike heaven, there are a lot of folks in our community who view bicycles as evil. More precisely, bicycles are part of the great Socialist plan to take over America.

So the thinking goes, riding bicycles is un-American and thwarts free enterprise. Forget the fact that some local riders own bikes that cost them well over five figures and spent thousands on bike trips and gear every year. Forget Norman Rockwell and Andrew Wyeth both using the bicycle as a symbol of Americana in paintings, bikes are European left leaning objects to be derided.

And please forget all that talk about getting healthier by riding a bicycle. The true American way is to eat fast food, use of gasoline and drive everywhere. Got it?

Judging from a recent incident at a public meeting, apparently the people that bike events draw to Bend are, well, simply not the element we want to have in this town. All those people who came here for the cyclocross nationals from all over the U.S. were definitely a low rent crowd. I mean they barely spent money when they weren't at their motels and hotels or eating in restaurants. Some even, gasp, went shopping and several seriously investigated purchasing local real estate.

But that's not what apparently some of the GOBS (good old boys) in the local lodging business want. They want the free spending crowd of developers and out-of-control builders filled up Bend back in the now thankfully long gone Gold Rush" era.

To hell with family "staycations" close to home and heaven forbid people coming here to exercise, let's get those crowds of plunderers back and hopefully ones that hate bikes as much as we do.

I will admit that I rode a bike to school as a kid, ride one everywhere now when the weather is good, I even raced them once upon a time, and I spend money on them. I don't consider myself a budding socialist or commie just someone who likes to save a bit of money while staying fit.

Now that is truly un-American.


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