Brain Fart: Confession of an Addict

 

Third Eye Helmet Mirror

 

Addiction is a strong word, so now that I have your attention, I’ll change my wording from addict to fanatic. What is it that I’m so hung up on? Rearview mirrors! I must confess, I never pictured myself as a mirror-wearing cyclist. Now that I’ve started down the mirror road, I can’t imagine turning back (pun intended). I know many of you think having a mirror on your person, or bicycle, is the pinnacle of bicycle dorkdom. I’m ok with that, being a slave to all-things-cool hasn’t ever had much appeal to me. Consider this: responsible driving practices, in an automobile or on a motorcycle, dictate a regular check of your mirrors so you know what is happening on the roadway behind you. Why should riding a bicycle on the road be any different, particularly when you’re the slowest traffic?

While I’m making confessions, I might as well include the primary motivating factor behind this whole mirror thing; I recently acquired my first motor vehicle in about 6 years. Now, I’ve been riding all sorts of motorized vehicles from a very young age, so procuring a dual sport motorcycle felt like a bit of a homecoming – as well as a guilty pleasure. I’ve always been a compulsive mirror checker, car or motorbike, and soon found myself attempting to check my mirrors while pedaling to work. Enter a commuting helmet with integrated mirror. What a wonderful idea! I’m totally hooked. I had grown used to being without a way to see the road behind, and truly didn’t realize what I was missing. It took me a little while to get accustomed to using the mirror, but after a week or so it became second nature. After a few months of riding with a mirror, I feel totally naked, and vulnerable without one while on the road.

Reflecting on my cycling past, I’m realizing there are a lot of things I have begun doing that I would have never pictured – mirrors being just one example. In the past I commuted on a fender-less track bike, hauling all my crap around in a messenger bag, fun while it lasted, but in retrospect harder on the body than need be. I’ve since moved on to much more comfortable commuting machines: ‘cross bike and a 29er/hybrid both with very relaxed riding positions, full fenders, racks, panniers, lots of lights, and a helmet with a mirror – gasp! Commuting without a bag on your back is pretty wonderful, I highly recommend it – your bicycle carries weight with comparative ease.

On a somewhat related rant, I’ve been noticing a wonderful increase in bike traffic around the city, some portion of which I attribute the increasing popularity of track bikes and the hip style that’s part of the scene. As this fixed gear, hipster craze progresses I’m becoming increasingly disconcerted by the “you’re not riding a track bike (and yikes you’re wearing a mirror!), therefore you aren’t hip, and I’m going to pretend you don’t exist” posturing. Come on now, there’s no need for attitude; we’re all in it together. I’d like to persuade everyone to acknowledge other cyclists with a wave and friendly greeting whenever possible. We’re all experiencing the same joy, why not come down off your high horse, say hello, and build some solidarity.

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