Addiction is a strong word, so now that I have your attention, Iâ€™ll change my wording from addict to fanatic. What is it that Iâ€™m so hung up on? Rearview mirrors! I must confess, I never pictured myself as a mirror-wearing cyclist. Now that Iâ€™ve started down the mirror road, I canâ€™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. Iâ€™m ok with that, being a slave to all-things-cool hasnâ€™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 youâ€™re the slowest traffic?
While Iâ€™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, Iâ€™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 â€“ as well as a guilty pleasure. Iâ€™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! Iâ€™m totally hooked. I had grown used to being without a way to see the road behind, and truly didnâ€™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, Iâ€™m realizing there are a lot of things I have begun doing that I would have never pictured â€“ 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. Iâ€™ve since moved on to much more comfortable commuting machines: â€˜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 â€“ gasp! Commuting without a bag on your back is pretty wonderful, I highly recommend it â€“ your bicycle carries weight with comparative ease.
On a somewhat related rant, Iâ€™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 thatâ€™s part of the scene. As this fixed gear, hipster craze progresses Iâ€™m becoming increasingly disconcerted by the â€œyouâ€™re not riding a track bike (and yikes youâ€™re wearing a mirror!), therefore you arenâ€™t hip, and Iâ€™m going to pretend you donâ€™t existâ€ posturing. Come on now, thereâ€™s no need for attitude; weâ€™re all in it together. Iâ€™d like to persuade everyone to acknowledge other cyclists with a wave and friendly greeting whenever possible. Weâ€™re all experiencing the same joy, why not come down off your high horse, say hello, and build some solidarity.