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When I was 12 years old, I received a hike for Christmas. I had wanted a hike for years, and I was delighted with the gift. Throughout high school I rode my bike to school every day. That was unusual; most students came by bus or car. But I could bike to school in 20 minutes, through broad and uncrowned streets. I loved the feel of the breeze on my face.
As an adult, I rode for pleasure whenever I could. I used my bike to explore quiet neighborhoods Breitling Replica where there was little traffic to contend with. Each year, for vacation. I would put my bike on a rack attached to the back of my car and take the bike to my holiday destinationâ€”the mountains or the ocean. (I live in Maryland, an east-coast state, with the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Appalachians on the west. )
All my biking experience prepared me --and yet did not prepare meâ€”to become a biker in China. I would certainly never have attempted to join the throng of people who use bikes for transportation here without that earlier experience. But biking in China is very different from biking in America.
American adults usually ride a bike for recreation. ~ This means that they ride in parks, or on bike trails in quiet places. Some people bike primarily for exercise, but for many, biking silently through tranquil natural settings can also be meditativeâ€”it calms the nerves and restores the soul. Very seldom would anyone ride a hike in downtown traffic. Sometimes bike trips lasting one or two weeks are organized to lake groups of bikers to see areas. A supply van accompanies the bikers, to fix any bike that breaks down and to provide light refreshment. '! At night bikers camp out or sleep in motels.
In China, where people use bikes for transportation rather than for fun. the number of bikers overwhelms me. The bike lanes here help, but the presence of motorcycles whizzing coming the bikes, as well as the bikes weaving in and out, makes bike travel hazardous.
Intersections are a contemporary version of one of the circles of hell that Dante described. I am learning the unwritten rules of biking here: don't look back; and when in doubt, just go and you'll make it somehow. In America, in contrast, we are taught to be mindful of the people in back of us and to exercise prudencein doubtful situations.
My first bicycle' trip in China was most unusual. When I lived in Beijing, I noticed that Tiananmen Square was on the same avenue as my hotel. On my second morning in China I set out to rent a bike and ride to the square to watch the raising of the flag. However, 1 didn't know that China had parking lots for bikes. I tried unsuccessfully to rent a bike from a man who was tending parked bikes, not renting them out. He kept urging Cartier Replica me to get into a predicable and let someone else pedal.
I was giving up hope of making myself clear through gestures when a bike repairman on the corner who had been watching the pantomimic offered me his bike. He took off all the equipment that was hanging from it. I pointed to my watch, traced one hour with my finger, paid him and rode away.
Although 1 missed the flag raising, I enjoyed riding around Tiananmen Square and watching the people gathered there. They were, as you would guess, also watching me. After an hour I returned the hike, and the owner and I bowed to each other and smiled. I was exhilarated because I had joined the throng of bikers, reached my destination and returned without mishap. My biking experience in China was off to a good start. '
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