What’s so aesthetically pleasing about a bicycle? Perhaps it’s the light spin of a tire, the efficient bend of the frame, the way that form follows function to create human transportation. The subtle elegance of a bike is echoed in the way the rider looks and feels, with focused eyes and extended calf muscles, creating a picture of fluidity and grace in motion.
It’s amazing how connected riders feel to their bikes, often transcending time and space and conjuring up memories of home, special people, and the conscious choices about fashion and functionality that speak to individual aesthetics and personalities. I’ve profiled two Sarah Lawrence sophomores who speak about their own connections to their bicycles, both on and off campus.
Emily Eason’s (’17) explanation of her relationship to her bicycle (which she named “Iggy, after Iggy Pop, not Iggy Azalea”) provides insight into her style and lifestyle choices, as well as her personal philosophy. Eason and her four-month-old purchase, a bright orange Peugeot found at a thrift store and bought for $200, have already been on adventures of all kinds together. Eason says, “I know nothing about bikes. I took it for a ride the afternoon I bought it and the chain broke and one of the tires blew out. It was raining and I was three miles from home.”
When I asked why Eason was particularly attracted to this bike, she explained, “I think this bike is f****** sick because it’s old and it squeaks when I ride it. When I got her, she was covered in dirt and rusty. I’m not going to pretend it’s a $2,000 Bianchi. The nature of this bike is durability and dependability, but it’s also just a really beautiful piece of machinery.” Eason is also incredibly into bike safety sometimes sacrificing personal style for personal safety. “Keep your noggin in your skull, even if you look like a total dweeb!”
Hannah Gottlieb-Graham (’17) has experienced both having and not having her customized “Barbie pink” Papillionaire bike on campus. On not bringing it to school this year, she says, “I think it’s inconvenient to ride it on campus. I’m really emotionally invested in my bike, so if anything happened to it I’d be really devastated. My parents bought it for me as a gift to ride around New York, but I’ve found that it’s become more of a representation of home than school.”
Gottlieb-Graham customized her bike at age 17, and chose a bright shade of pink and a light brown wicker basket. She discussed her evolving style in relation to the customization choices she made two years ago, saying, “I’m honestly not sure I would want a pink bike now, but it echoes a part of my personality that’s really fun and carefree. It’s nice to recognize how my style and color choices have evolved; I see my past self in my bike.”
Thinking about her bike conjures up beautiful images of long rides through Illinois with her boyfriend and her best friend, Anna (who purchased the same Papillionaire bike in mint green), and outings with her father in Rhode Island this past summer. Gottlieb-Graham reminisces, “Anna and I would bike for ten miles in the middle of vast cornfields, and when we got tired we’d stop and cuddle in the grass.” Gottlieb-Graham is incredibly sentimental about the connections her bike has granted her, explaining, “You have bits and pieces of your identity scattered in your most prized possessions, and my bike is one of those sacred things.”