I thought it would be a good idea to rent a bike for at least two reasons:
1) We’ve had some beautiful weather here in Paris that I wanted to enjoy, and having seen bike trails around I thought it seemed like a good way to spend a nice Sunday afternoon;
2) I wanted to do a test run and see how they work, as I figure I may appreciate having an alternative mode of transportation from time to time.
Biking turned out to be a bad idea for at least 4 reasons:
1) I don’t know the rules of the road;
2) I still don’t really know my way around Paris;
3) I apparently don’t have the endurance for 2 hours of biking, especially uphill;
4) I can’t even REMEMBER the last time I rode a bike (A smarter person would probably suggest that central Paris might not have been the best place to relearn).
But, these last four things weren’t really on my mind as I set out optimistically for my happy ride along the Seine, which is probably for the best, because if I had thought of them I wouldn’t have even tried. Things started out a little shaky as I readjusted to biking, and I might have done some swerving, but after a few minutes I was back to gliding comfortably along just like I did when I was a kid. It must be true—riding a bike is something you never forget. Unfortunately, though, I’m the type of person who tends to forget a lot of other things, including where I’m going and the very purpose of my expedition. Somehow I lost track of the Seine and my bike path altogether and found myself racing along with traffic, deep into unfamiliar territory, being honked at from all directions.
That’s when I figured out I’d have to adjust myself to another type of bike riding—city riding. There wasn’t time to second guess myself, and i did my best to follow what other riders were doing. One lady was particularly helpful, and pulled up alongside me and gave me a few words of advice (I guess it was obvious I was in over my head). Nevertheless, I lived to blog about it.
But despite it all, it was rather fun and I covered a LOT of ground…and saw a lot of neighborhoods I doubt I would have wandered into otherwise.
There were definitely some highlights. Parts of the ride were especially beautiful (especially parts with marked bike trails). It’s an interesting way to get to know the city, and to venture into some areas that you don’t know much about (and perhaps have no reason to see otherwise). You can cover a lot of ground quickly when you need to, and also stop and look when you want to. I saw a couple interesting churches, a street fair full of people dressed up in some really incredible costumes, circled the A rc de Triomphe (twice), and even rode down the Champs Elysees for a block or so (not recommended, however…its a traffic nightmare). All in all, I feel a little bit more confident now that I’ve done it once, and I like having bikes as an option if I need them.
At the same time, I don’t think I’ll be utilizing them very often. City driving takes nerves of steel, no matter what sort of vehicle you’ve got…and this is particularly true for bycyclists.