My title is inspired by the book The Island of Bicycle Dancers by Jiro Adachi. I read this book during that post-undergraduate, identity-crisis time of my early 20s throughout which I was obsessed with bike messengers and ventured to launch a sociological research project on them, which I never completed.
I think of this book often while I’m riding downtown and especially on days like the past few days of this week. The weather has been so perfect for biking: a cool breeze without the typical Chicago gale, warm enough to be comfortable in casual work clothes but not so hot that you are melting at every stop light or drenched in your own sweat by the time you have reached your destination. It’s on days like these that I feel as if I am a bicycle dancer, painlessly gliding through the city streets and rush hour traffic.
Perhaps it is the slight emptiness of the city in the summer that I enjoy or changing up my riding schedule. My favorite biking memories are often those that are solo, feeling like the city is there for the taking, like I own the breeze and the blue sky and the clear moon and the tall cool buildings. I feel like a lover traversing the city, familiar with every curve of road on my favorite route, making sure to acknowledge and avoid the potholes and the odd patches of uneven surfaces, loving it all the same.
It is biking in the city that provides a new layer for my love of Chicago summers. The ease of which always feels like the beginning of some adventure, whether it be great or quietly satisfying. I used to have this sticker that said, “My bikes takes me everywhere” and it had a picture of a bike sailing in the sky. It takes me through a rough day, winter blahs, asshole drivers and plants me on the other side of introspection, observation, and appreciation. And that has made all the difference.