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Been riding my bike lately. Over the years a few bicycles have piled up in the house. Yet, only thought about riding one after the intense July heat made it far too humid to walk. Hadn’t been on a bike… well in years. But, after arriving several times to my destinations drenched from sweat and damn near sun-stroked, I was forced to consider another green way to propel around town.  Don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner. It’s exhilarating.

Aside from the wonderful freedom and the back to nature aspect bike riding offers, you can do clever things like popping wheelies (don’t do those) and riding around in mindless circles with a mean tilt (frees the mind of clutter). Try doing those things in a car. Since I’ve been riding, I’ve noticed that most bikes on the road are older models (including mine). That’s right. Surely to the chagrin of Madison Avenue advertising agencies bicyclists are not subject to their meddling… not yet.  

“Shinier Is Better, Newer Is Well… Better”

Oh, what delicious freedom we bikers have from Madison Avenue’s lure for us to have the year’s shiniest or the year’s new and improved model. (Especially, when this year’s model is exactly the same as last year’s model… only in more colorful packaging). For those clever Madison Avenue overlords tempt us all, ad nauseam, to covet our neighbor’s newer, bigger, better “whatever,” because, they tell you as you stare into your neighbor’s yard, somehow their grass is always greener. Pshaw.

Nope. No stigmas come attached with riding an older bicycle, not even decades old bicycles. No need to worry about getting looks of pity or awful stares from tres chic bikers who must–at the bidding of the overlords– purchase the trendiest ride every two or three years. No need to keep up with the Joneses. In the world of bicycling we graciously accept bicycles one and all… the way old and… the way new. 

You Own It So Long As The Bank Doesn’t Call In Its Loan

Recently saw a bumper sticker on an older model Toyota Celica that read “don’t laugh it’s paid for.” Don’t know how old that bumper sticker is, but I’ll bet that in this time of economic whoa for a lot of people, few are laughing at the driver with one less bill to pay.

Over the years, we’ve moved far and away from the frugal lifestyles of depression-era survivors. The days of having even modest savings are long gone. The days of “mortgage burning parties,” when homeowners celebrated the end to debt, were replaced with reverse mortgages and the 50 year mortgage. It’s shocking to read that many baby boomers–after decades of working hard–still do not actually “own” their own home. Retirement years simply means many more years of work for far too many of our seniors.

As well, the wise concept of  “lay-aways,” paying for something over time until you could actually take it home, was replaced by the Madison Avenue mantra to “shop ’til you drop” bringing with it an accompanying large debt.

Crying Uncle: We’ve Shopped… and Now We’ve Dropped

No matter. Shop ’til you drop was the new paradigm as we grew frantic about possessing the newest, the biggest, the brightest. Americans completely affirmed the giddy Madison Avenue-driven delirium.

Attitudes are definitely changing in this country. Read an article the other day about drivers who, if they can, are unloading classy gas guzzlers in favor of more less flashy smaller cars with better gas mileage. Many Americans are turning to their bikes for short errands or to even get them to work.

One Debt Deserves Another

Apparently we have indebted ourselves right into a brand new paradigm. A paradigm that dreams of living in smaller spaces and moving closer to cities to lower fuel costs. Good for us.

And next time when Madison Avenue comes calling, Americans can tell them, no thanks, we are already living on the greener side of the road.

J Gowasky

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