I spent the weekend in car-centric hell.
I was in Phoenix, AZ again. The whole weekend we drove everywhere with the windows rolled up tight and the air conditioning blasting. Our bikes were 200 miles north, and 4000 feet higher in elevation.
It doesn’t take much to remind me why I don’t live in Phoenix anymore.
I don’t like the sprawl. I don’t like the heat. I don’t like knowing that every hour of every day energy is being purchased (at an environmental cost) in order to create an artificially comfortable climate for people.
We went to the zoo. The parking lot was completely full. The zoo was packed with people, walking, gawking, and eating junk food. Misanthropic thoughts were on a low simmer.
I imagined that the orangutans and I were on the same page.
Then I discovered that people are allowed to bring bikes into the Phoenix Zoo. I saw two or three people pedaling through the hordes.
That detail made me remember living in Tempe. Mountain biking on the weekends in Papago Park, or South Mountain. It changed my attitude. Bikes reminded me that I used to love it here.
I commuted by bike on the hottest day on record in Phoenix: June 26, 1990, when it reached 122 â„‰. It was nasty, but I remember thinking of it as a bragging right, and not as an unbearable experience.
This weekend, the temperature didn’t even break 100 â„‰–although it got close.
Leaving the zoo, I started to notice bikes everywhere. The bike rack outside of a Starbucks was completely full.
Phoenicians were enjoying the sub-100 â„‰ weather, and riding along the bike paths, and canals–just like I used to do. I’ve become a wimp.
Although I’m back in the mountains now, this morning I made point to visit John Romeo Alpha’s One Speed Go blog where he celebrates the joys of using Phoenix’s cycling infrastructure for commuting and pleasure.
John comments here on Commute by Bike occasionally. I was probably within a mile of John on Saturday, which he spent in a mindset of joyful discovery, and anticipating weather even 20 degrees hotter.
It’s so simple, yet so vital. Look at the green arch, the sun-dappled shade, the native landscaping… I’ll make this a destination on a summer ride when the temperature is in the one-teens, to illustrate its function in a hot desert land…
I definitely appreciate the attitude adjustment.
If you’re ever inclined to whine about the heat, I recommend One Speed Go.