Monday, August 25, 2008

How cool is that!

On my way home from work on Friday, I saw another rider getting onto his bicycle. Far from the norm for downtown bicyclists, he was wearing an aerodynamic helmet and riding a time trial bicycle with bladed carbon wheels. He caught me at a red light and asked, in a European accent, "Is there a bicycle shop near here?" It turns out that he came from Denmark for the Ironman Triathlon in Louisville this weekend. This is his first visit to the continental US. He went to Hawai'i last year - I would guess for the Ironman, as well. We taught each other the hand signals for stopping in our respective countries: left arm bent at the elbow, hand pointing down, palm back in the US; left arm extended upward, palm forward in Denmark.

We rode together to a nearby bicycle shop where he borrowed a wrench to tighten his pedals. I gave him the phone number of some friends who frequently host Danish exchange students, as well as my own phone numbers. He politely declined my offer to ride with him on Saturday, saying that he needed to train on the triathlon route. I was astonished to have encountered a European triathlete on my bike ride home from work in downtown Louisville!

During the 2005 Louisville Bicycle Summit I could not have imagined that Louisville would in 2008 host an Ironman Triathlon with thousands of competitors from as far away as Europe. In the past three years, our city has hosted the Master's National championship series for two years, a major national cyclocross race, and many other races, and our region now has over 30 sponsored bicycle racing teams. Several community leaders avidly race bicycles. This marks amazing local growth in bicycle racing over the past 10 years.

This explosion of bicycle racing happened because some people convinced themselves it was possible and worked hard to make it happen. I take their example as an inspirational reminder that a similar explosion in transportation cycling and other types of bicycling can happen here if a few of us show similar hope and diligence. Let's make it happen!

No comments: