During my university years, I used to ride bicycle almost every day in Izmir.
I never knew how many kilometers I was pedaling or how far I had gone or could go. I just liked cycling around. I am not sport person. I like walking. I could walk and hike quite long time, but I would not consider myself sporty. To me the difference between a cyclist to a person who likes to ride is: a cylist is dedicated a goal, riding a certain speed to reach a destination; a person who likes to ride bicycle enjoy the scenery, does not rush to reach a place. That’s why I would not label myself cyclist. Joan teases me, she says “You are not cyclist Nur, you like riding, just like you are not vegeterian, you just do not eat meat!” I learned to ride a bike at the age of 22. I begged my mom quite a long time to buy me a bicycle. I had to cleaning a lot of dishes, ironing, and all house cleaning ( beside having good grades ) before I earned it. I thought a bicycle gives you freedom; you could go a lot further in a shorter time, than walking. I liked that idea.
I did not grow up with bike. I do not even remember if I had a bicycle when I was a little girl. Probably I did not even have one, since I do not have any pictures with a bike. Izmir is a large city, now even more crowded, ( almost 3 million people live there) traffic is heavy. Cycling without being menaced by cars is hard. When I was riding a bike, I tried to choose deserted streets, most the time by the sea, or on tiny dirt roads. There were no bike roads, or paths in 80’s nor 90’s. Today, there is a nice path by the bay. When I moved Portland it took me a long time get used to the new climate. The long rain season put me off riding around. You never know when rain would start. Surely at the beginning, it felt like every day it rains here. As an Izmirian, I am not good with rain. If it rains, I do not ride bicycle. Then I had to wait long time. Summer days are really short here without rain.
However, this year I finally decided to ride again. Even though I had my bicycle for the last 4 years, it seemed like it just sat in the garage. To my surprise this summer in Portland is nice and warm. There is not much heavy rain. July is fabulously warm and sunny. So finally I took my pretty bicycle out of garage. It was time to get know this city by pedaling. Last 3 weeks I have tried different paths. I started with 5km, a pleasant ride. Just to enjoy scenery. Then the next week, I went 10 km/6.2 miles. Sure I could do 15, I said myself. Then, I rode 15 km/9.3 miles towards Gresham in 37 °C, definitely it was a hot summer day. After searching online bicycle roads, I decided to try every week different part of the city. Since it was so easy to go to Spring Water Corridor from my home, it became one of my favorite destinations. The Springwater Corridor is the major southeast segment of the 40-Mile Loop (64.3 km). I quickly learned that weekends a lot of bicyclist choose that path. Last evening I rode 10 km there; which was really good, the road was almost empty. I saw an osprey nest. I watched her a bit. She has a strong voice.
Portland has really nice bike paths around. It felt so nice in a warm evening riding again. I never knew Portland could get 40 °C! It was as if a Mediterranean climate. I was very happy. This weekend I am aiming 20 km/12.4 miles. I should be able to do it. I know I can do it.
Photo by Rob Roy, July 2009
This morning, I was talking to my sister on the phone, I asked her “how much she rides a bicycle around”. She paused a bit then said in front of our summer house 50 meter to left, then 50 meter to right, let’s say 100 meter. We both laughed that. My brother does not ride. He likes driving his car. If is possible he would go to bathroom by driving. You can be sister and brother and yet so different. I guess in my family I am the only one, who likes outdoor activities, such as walking long time, hiking, riding bicycle. Then I realized I did not know how much I was riding summer evenings in Izmir. It made me curious what was the number? I used Google Earth to measure the distance. I learned that I was going by my bicycle to the sea 5 km each way. So, it was 10 km every night; that was my number. OK, that was 15 years ago. Could I do it again? Sure why not! The important thing is you have to have a goal. As long as I have my realistic goal, I can achieve.
My next goal is to gain faster reflexes! I enjoy taking photos when I am riding. I see all kinds of animals pass by. Yesterday I saw a rabbit, tiny one, it kept eating by the side of the trail, without paying attention to me.
At Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, I saw a few grey herrings. They look fabulous. I use my right hand to hold camera. So far I did not hit any tree or other cyclist but I am not still good enough. I need to be faster. Whatever the odd reason I feel like when I am taking photos with one hand, ( acting clumsily ) wiggling bicycle badly, I feel like I am the lonely cowboy trying to shoot bad guys. I know I know, it is a weird fantasy. I watched too many cowboy movies when I was little. Even though the last 10 years I do not watch TV, ( I did not buy a TV in this country ). I guess I was always more like a radio person, than TV. Still I remember some movies that I watched on TV though. Memory is a mystery, what do I remember about my childhood, what were the cartoons I watched, (Red Kid was my favorite), my grandfather’s grape yard, it is fading but sweet memories.
To feel happier you need to focus on your goals. Not glamorous, unrealistic ones, more like things you could do. I am forty years old, riding bicycle 20 km will make me tired but also feel good. So I will do my best.
Photo by Rob Roy, July 2009