Beer, Bikes & A Shocking Confession

I had occasion to visit the local bottle shop on a recent trip to the Excited States, and as I stood in front of the enormous wall o’ beer I was overwhelmed by the unfamiliar and copious selection of ales, lagers and stouts. Not being much of an American beer connoisseur, I naturally made my selection based on the look of the label, which was easy in this case, when I came across one with a bike on it.

The beer was called Fat Tire, and is made by the New Belgium Brewing Company of Fort Collins Colorado. New Belgium was started from the kind of humble roots we all wish we could lay claim to: a 32 year old hippy on a mountain bike rides through Belgium, comes back to the US and decides to start making beer in his basement, and is outrageously successful while still maintaining some amount of authenticity and street-cred.

The beer was tasty, especially by American standards, but not necessarily remarkable. I did keep a souvenir, however, a bottle cap with the company’s logo on it, which happens to be a bike. You see, in addition to being a bike geek, I am also a design geek and as far as design conventions go, it is a very good logo. Unique, simple, and recognizable. You can tell a logo is good when it even looks good reduced to very small sizes, and the bottle cap was so precious I couldn’t bring myself to get rid if it.

On a subsequent trip to the US, while drinking a subsequent bottle of Fat Tire (I am nothing if not loyal and consistent), I noticed a label on the side of the bottle advertising the Tour de Fat. Which in addition to being very funny at the time (isn’t everything funny after a few beers?) was also intriguing.
So on my return home, where an internet connection doesn’t cost $120/minute, I googled New Belgium and the Tour de Fat. Man are these guys into bikes. They have “bike-in” movies, in the style of the old drive-in, where people come to their brewlicious location (by bike of course), plop down on the lawn and watch a movie. They also founded Team Wonderbike, which is all about getting more cars off the road and replacing them with bikes. So committed are they to advancing the use of these wondrous human-powered machines that they started the Tour de Fat, a traveling bike-festival-cum-evangelical-tour that goes from city to carbon emission belching city in the US preaching the Good Word about the positive societal offerings of the bicycle, “not only because they are fun, but because they help stave off some of our most wicked ills: Traffic, laziness, and pollution.” As much as New Belgium is into bikes, they are even more into saving our planet from the evils of vehicular traffic.

Which brings me to my shocking confession. There are many reasons I ride a bike, but none of them have anything to do with saving the planet. There, I said it. I ride my bike to make and hang out with friends, stay healthy, live longer, have fun, fulfill my competitive urges and fit into my pants. I do not ride my bike so there is one less car on the road. In fact, we are a two-car family and both my husband and I drive to work everyday in separate cars. We both work downtown. In fact, we both work in the same office.
We have justified this heinous eco-offence in the name of logistics. We have two small children, which generally means one or the other of us leaves the office ridiculously early so we don’t get dinged overtime charges by the daycare. Plus, I don’t care if you’re Levi Leipheimer or part of a traveling circus act, carrying two children, two schoolbags, a purse, briefcase, laptop and dinner on the back of a bicycle, is just plain difficult.

And there is another reason I don’t commute – and that is evil, wicked, shameful vanity. As far as women go, I probably fall into the “high to moderate maintenance beauty routine” category. I’m no Tammy Faye Baker, but I do wear makeup and shave my armpits from time to time. I like wearing high heels and take time carefully selecting and preparing my ensemble du jour, which generally doesn’t include sweat stains and helmet head.

To be fair, I know many people who commute everyday by bike, all year long. Even in winter when the temperature can reach ridiculously subpolar levels. And they all look completely gorgeous during their workday. I know this is just my own stupid hang up and I need to get over it. It is time to embrace the Good Word and throw caution to the wind. After all, riding a bike is the shit, whether you do it to save the planet or just fit in your pants.