National Bike Month

In the United States, the League of American Bicyclists have declared the month of May every year to be National Bike Month. It really is the perfect month for it. If you live in a state that gets hot in the summer, May is usually fairly mild. And if you live in a state that gets frigid in the winter, May is about when you can strip the mittens from your hands and feel the wind in your face.

I love biking. As a young child, I was “cautious.” I didn’t get rid of my training wheels until I was 8 and what pushed me into that milestone was that my younger brother got rid of his and I was not about to be outdone by him. But a year later after we moved from rural Indiana to the suburban sprawl of Chicago, bicycling became my morning meditation.

We lived on a street that circled around. Once around the street was the equivalent of half a mile. I’m not sure what possessed me, but somewhere in my 9 year old brain I had resolved to bike around the circle 6 times every morning right after breakfast, all summer. So I did. My favorite part was going down the hill as fast as I could. I only had a 1 speed, so getting up the hill was work, but it was worth it. For Easter I got decorations for my spokes and streamers for my handlebars, despite the fact that by the time I was 10 and 11, the other kids my age were making fun of such “baby” accruements. I was simultaneously embarrassed by them and yet I did love them (my spokes glowed in the DARK!)

I biked to piano lessons, I biked to the city pool, I biked to school when early morning seminary was cancelled. I was one of those ornery teenagers that complained about any kind of family vacation with forced outings like hiking or tours of old places, but I still think of our bike trip around Mackinac Island fondly. I could have done that all day.

My bicycling story hit a bump when I went away to college, but after we moved to Oakland, we started accumulating a few secondhand bikes that came to us cheap or free. Having no garage or shed, our home is now adorned in “bicycle chic,” aka, all but one of our bikes sit in our kitchen.

Cooking in a bike-y kitchen

Our “bike chic” kitchen behind me

Last month, the bicycling community celebrated 30 days of Biking, a push to go out and bike every day, even if it’s just around the block. For National Bike Month, I suggest you all try to go out, even for a little bit. Bike rentals and bike shares are usually reasonable priced if you don’t have a bike yourself. Go out and feel the freedom you felt as a kid. You don’t need fancy clothes or a fancy bike, I promise.

Happy Bike Month!Bike to Church


TopHat is putting her roots down in the Bay Area with her husband and three children. She loves the earth, yarn, and bicycling.

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16 Responses

  1. Laura says:

    Hooray for bike month! 30 Days of Biking helped me overcome my fear of sharing the street with cars, and I racked up lots of miles in the Sacramento May is Bike Month challenge. Here’s to another year of bike adventures!

    (p.s. You and I are bike helmet twinners. 🙂

    • TopHat says:

      Hi helmet twin! I was so surprised to find this one- it was a youth XL size. I assumed my head would be too big for it!

      And if you’re still in Sacramento, check out CycloFemme for Mother’s Day. I’m considering going if we can work out transportation to Sacramento.

      • Laura says:

        I didn’t know about the Cyclo Femme ride. How cool! And Guy West bridge, where it starts, is only about a quarter mile from my apartment. Too bad I’ll be out of town that weekend. 🙁 Thanks for the tip, though–maybe I can find another area group ride.

        (My helmet is the adult large. I have a big head. But only physically and not metaphorically!)

  2. Rachel says:

    I love biking, too, and found this post to be very sweet.

    I biked when I was a kid, but didn’t have a bike in middle school or high school. I rode a bike again in college, the year before my mission. It was my friend Davis’s, and he pretty much re-taught me how to ride. I could go straight, but I could not remember how to turn. And I thought people never forgot! On my mission I would beg the Elders to let me ride their bikes, because every set of Sisters had a car. Exactly one did, and it was one of the best days of my mission.

    When my husband was a child he would bike and bike around his neighborhood carrying a backpack filled with weights. He wanted to bike across the world already, and was trying to practice.

    • TopHat says:

      That’s interesting that the sisters got cars. The ward north of us (Berkeley) has elders on bikes, but our ward (Oakland) has sisters in a car. Hmm…

      One of my secondhand bikes is from a fellow Mormon feminist and it was her mission bike. It works great (though it needs a new saddle!)

    • Em says:

      I had one biking area in my mission, we had a car half-time and then some members had donated bikes. It was hard to ride in a skirt, but I do remember one great p-day in which we (sisters and elders in small Maryland town) drove down to the tow-path along the C&O canal and biked a good long ways. One of the best P-days of my mission.

  3. Caroline says:

    TopHat, you are amazing. I admire your commitment to biking and going car-free. It’s astounding that you’ve had the fortitude to do that with three kids.

  4. Em says:

    I just got a bike for my birthday! My first bike since sixth grade. I’m picking it up today. I can’t help but think how silly it is that I’ve spent the last seven years walking/taking the bus to the university when a bike would have been so much more efficient.

  5. MargaretOH says:

    When my first child turned one I got her a bike seat and got back on a bike for the first time in two years. It was exhilarating. Really, I felt so happy I couldn’t quite contain myself. We spent every evening that summer biking after dinner. I really missed it when I was pregnant again. We just got a bike trailer for two kids for Christmas so we could get back out and it has made my spring magical. I hadn’t known it was National Bike Month, but after a ride to the library on Thursday I put this quote on my FB page:

    “Cycling is fast bringing about this change of feeling regarding woman and her capabilities. A woman awheel is an independent creature, free to go whither she will.” –Minneapolis newspaper, 1894

    • TopHat says:

      It IS exhilarating. I told my husband once that if I ever left him (and I’m definitely not planning on it, we have a great relationship), it would be by bike! We got a trailer from a friend in the ward a few years ago and that started me back into cycling!

      And I love that quote. It reminds me of this Susan B. Anthony one, “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

  6. Naismith says:

    I was so inspired by your post that I decided to cycle to the stake center on Sunday, which is not quite 9 miles. When I got there, it turned out that there were NO bike racks. It made me wonder whether we are bike friendly as a church. What happened to missionaries riding bikes?

    I think there is a sexist side to it, because so many (most?) bikes out there do not consider women’s physiology. I was so grateful to find the female engineers at had designed the perfect seat for many women including me; it has made a huge difference in comfort.

    I also celebrate the new U-frame bikes that make it so much easier for those pulling a trailer etc. They have had them in Europe for decades and now as the baby boom ages, they are finally coming into the mainstream. The metals have been strong enough for years to get away from the diamond configuration, but a macho value and tradition has persisted. After I bought a Fuji Crosstown, my trips to the chiropractor dropped by 2/3. We figured that even the mixte frame center bar of my previous bike had forced my hips farther apart. Since I have issues with a loose sacroiliac joint from childbirth, this was a problem.

    One of our first post-nest vacations was cycling from Harpers Ferry WV to Pittsburgh on the GAP-C&O trails. Lovely. And it can only be experienced on foot or on bike.

    • TopHat says:

      I’m glad you had a chance to bike to church! Our trip is 7.5 miles to church, but it’s uphill about 700 feet in elevation, so it takes us a while. After writing this post, I wondered if it would have been feasible to bike to church when I was a kid/youth (distances felt so different then!). That trip would have been only 7 miles and on flat ground. I think we could have done it, with some practice.

      And yes about the bike racks. The Berkeley ward building has racks, but they aren’t in good shape and I hear people just park their bikes in the gym. Our ward building is next to the Oakland temple and there are no racks. I’ve been pushing for them for about a year and this past Sunday the man in charge of the building let me know that he got an email saying we’ll get some, but he doesn’t know when. I think it would make a great Eagle Scout or YW Value Project to install bike racks at a ward building!

      And about saddles. I think in a comment above I mentioned having a bike that needs a new saddle. I’m actually nervous about getting one because of comfort because of my female hipbones. I know in Portland, there is a women’s bike shop that has a “saddle library” where you can try out different ones. I hope that concept catches on!

      • Rachel says:

        I love the idea of a saddle library.

        I think the only bike rack at an LDS church that I have seen is in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was full! My husband and I used to bike to church at two different wards in southern California, and another in Brooklyn, NY. In the first two we locked our bikes against a pole, while in the latter we put our bikes inside the building.

        Having a safe and designated spot to keep bikes might go a long way in encouraging more bikers!

      • Naismith says:

        My saddle is the one at 4 o’clock. But great to have a library to be able to test them all out.

        My home-ward chapel has bike racks and I usually ride there, it was only the first time to ride to the stake center. But at my home-ward chapel, for much of the year I park out on a lamppost or something rather than the bike rack itself which is in the sun (hotseat!).

        Also, my work wardrobe consists mostly of culottes, which works for church as well. I only wear pants when I can drive, because my dress pants are chain bait.

  1. July 20, 2014

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