Archives For Biking

What to do?

January 26, 2013 — Leave a comment

“What to do?” This common Sri Lankan English phrase summed up my feelings earlier this week, when on my way home from work the pedal fell off of my bicycle. I stopped, picked up the pedal, and assessed the situation as a few curious Sri Lankans came to watch.

Fortunately, I was at the top of a hill. So for about half a kilometer I tried to ride with one pedal. As I was slowly struggling along, it started to rain. A few Sri Lankans riding by slowed down to inquire about what had happened. Unsurprisingly, pedaling with one leg wasn’t working out too well. I came to the bottom of a large hill and decided it was time to figure something else out. I hailed down a tuk tuk, and shoved my cycle in the back of it.

photo (14)

We had just departed when a police officer pulled us over to see what was wrong. He scolded the tuk tuk driver, apparently this wasn’t legal. The driver somehow worked things out, and we were back on our way towards my house. The driver had to take a series of backroads to avoid two more checkpoints along the road, because he was afraid of getting fined for having a bicycle hanging out of his vehicle.

Three months ago, I’m not sure I would have handled the situation as well as I did today. I wasn’t angry or upset. I sort of just laughed. Sri Lanka has made me better at dealing with unfortunate situations, people here don’t get as worked up about things as we do in America.

What to do?

#bikeLK

January 21, 2013 — Leave a comment

Over the past two weeks I’ve started biking to work every day, and I have to say its been a welcome improvement to my daily routine. Between a cold shower, cup of coffee, and twenty minute bike ride I’m energized and ready to start teaching by the time I reach work.

It takes about twice as long to bike than to take a three-wheeler the 3 km between home and work. My bike provides freedom, I can go wherever I want in this town without worrying about the  cost of a tuk-tuk. I can stop at the vegetable stands on the way home from work, and pick out my dinner for the night. I don’t have to worry about taking a trishaw, or being dependent on someone else to get me around town.

My daily commute

It’s really quite nice to have almost an hour of exercise built into my day, I sleep better and feel better when I get home from a long day of teaching. It gives me twenty minutes to unwind and forget about stressful classes. By the time I reach the last major hill on my ride home I’m usually covered in a film of sweat, and ready to lay in my hammock for a while – until the mosquitos start coming.

People look at me strangely when I ride through town on my bike, for a number of reasons.  I wear a helmet, which is truly bizarre. I had to go to Colombo to purchase the helmet, and visited five stores before buying one. The first store I went into had a helmet for 2,500 SLR ($20.00 USD) and the last store I went into had the same helmet for 1,500 SLR ($11.00). The other stores didn’t carry helmets, and at the store I eventually purchased mine from, they only had that one helmet. I’ve been told by many Sri Lankans that it isn’t necessary to wear a helmet on a bicycle – but when I’m dodging cows, pedestrians, and busses, it is nice to be wearing one.

People also give me strange looks because I’m riding on a bicycle. Most white people who come to Trinco are NGO officials and Diplomats who are chauffeured around in air conditioned Land Rovers and Toyotas. It isn’t often that you see a white guy struggling up a hill on a push bike.

On another note, I’ve been learning to ride a motorcycle. Yesterday my friend took me into town to grocery shop on the back of his bike. You’re really conscious of what you buy at the store when you have to hold onto your parcels on the back of a motorcycle.

Learning to ride