I Like to Ride My Bicycle, I Like to Ride My Bike

By Laura Ruggles

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs the words of the famous Queen song go, I like to ride my bicycle. At Santa Clara, you can almost always find me commuting between class, work, and home on my bicycle. There’s just something so liberating about being able to wheel around easily between one destination and another. Plus, you can get places a lot faster than getting stuck in congested Silicon Valley.

On occasion, I have tried to balance things on my handle bars. Many times I have stopped at the grocery store on my way back home from campus and found myself leaving with more than the loaf of bread or gallon of milk that I intended to buy. Try as I might to manage my precarious load, I’ve never seemed to have the knack for carrying anything on my bicycle other than myself.

When we left the airport three weeks ago, the very first thing that I noticed were Zambians riding along the side of the road on their bicycles. Or rather, the first thing I noticed was Zambians balancing different cumbersome and unwieldy items while riding their bicycles. That first day I saw people carrying huge loads of vegetables on the back of their bicycles to take to the markets in Lusaka. In the days and weeks that have followed, I have seen a number of other loads, such as locally produced charcoal, or several flats of eggs, or people balanced on the backs of bicycles. Mothers in traditional dress even tie their babies on their backs and head off.

Today, I watched a young boy, probably no more than six or seven, standing while riding an adult sized bicycle; he was still too short to sit on the seat or else he wouldn’t be able to reach the peddles while carting around his younger brother. What’s probably more impressive is how far and how long people will travel to get to their destination. One of our drivers at the mission, Dipok, informed us that some people will ride for up to four hours one direction in order to sell their goods at a market. Believe me, the dirt roads and pathways aren’t easy riding. I am continually impressed by the strength and spirit of the Zambian people I have come across.

Next time I pick up groceries and try to wobble my way back home on my own bicycle back at school, I will for sure think about the Zambian art of bicycle riding. Although the answer for me might be a basket!