Elements of Bike Riding 23

By Peter Burns

My Bike

I ride you almost every day, all around the town;

You are my faithful steed and friend, none better to be found.


Yellow is your color, Salsa is your brand;

You are the finest bicycle, for you I’ll take my stand.


Yes, you have some nicks, some paint that’s wearing thin;

But if we stick together, we will always win.


Twelve months a year I’m riding, through sunshine rain and snow;

You’ll always be with me, no matter where I go!  


You may be made of metal, with plastic accessories,

But in my mind, you are as alive, as birds or beasts or bees!


I am forever grateful, that you are in my life;

If you were only human, I’d ask you to be my wife.


I recommend getting a multi-use item called a neck gaiter or buff.  Basically, it is a lightweight tube of stretchy fabric.  In the warmer months, I wear it n my head,  under a bike cap, to absorb sweat.  If the buff gets too moist I can reverse it.  It is, of course, of the utmost importance that you coordinate the color of your cap and the color of the buff.  Recently I made the fashion faux pas of wearing a turquoise cap with blue and white buff.  A friend of mine took me to task about it, so I felt I had to buy a new blue bike cap to go with the buff.  

In cooler weather, the buff can cover my ears which get cold easily.  The buff can also be worn around my neck, and over the nose and mouth in cold weather.  As an added bonus it can serve as a face mask.  Buffs and neck gaiters come in many different colors and fabrics.  I particularly like the merino wool ones for cold weather wear.

Swimming Lock

I love to ride and swim, but the challenge has always been what to do with my cell phone, wallet, and keys while I am on the water.  I like to take long swims, and leaving my valuables unattended has always been anxiety-provoking.  Last year I got a combination bike lock and security bag by Overade. It is a combination lock that allows me to lock up my bike and valuables all together.  It had been great!  It is relatively lightweight and easy to use.  I recommend it if you like to ride and swim.

The Walk

The Walk’ by Robert  Walser is one of my favorite books about walking.  Walser was a German writer who spent the last 20 years of his life in a sanatorium.  During that time he wrote in tiny script on scraps of paper. Here in ‘The Walk’, he describes his attitude toward cars, which is close to my own.

“To people sitting in a blustering automobile, I always present an austere face.  Then they believe that I am a sharp-eyed malevolent spy, a plainclothes policeman deployed by high officials to spy on the traffic, to note down the numbers of vehicles and later to report them to the proper authorities. I always look darkly at the wheels, at the car as a whole, but never at its occupants whom I despise, and this is in no way personally, but purely on principle, for I shall never understand, how it can be called a pleasure to hurtle past all the images and objects which our beautiful earth displays as if one had gone mad and had to accelerate for fear of despair.”


Many years ago I studied the Alexander Technique.  The technique emphasizes alignment and expansion.  I tend to slump when I ride and hunch my shoulders. I try to remember to keep a straight spine, relaxed shoulders, and a sense of expansion in my body.  I see many people pedaling with their knees pointing away from the bike.  Keeping the knees pointing forward rather than out to the side helps prevent joint problems.  Although my legs do much of the movement when riding, I work to engage my whole body.  When my back is strong I don’t put so much pressure on my arms and wrists.  When everything is aligned I feel a floating sensation when I ride.  

About the author:

Peter Burns is a long-time bike enthusiast, and one of the original year-round bike riders in Burlington.  He writes amazing monthly blogs and teaches a variety of Everyday Biking workshops.  In addition to his work at Local Motion, he also works at a group home for people with Psychiatric disabilities, teaches classes for the Vermont Humanities Council, teaches swimming at the Burlington YMCA, and is a regular host of Storytelling VT.