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Davis

Davis, California

Monday, October 18, 2021

Column: Cyclistas

I never cared about the intersection of dating and transit until I went to UCD. Fifteen percent of the trips we take in Davis involve bicycles, and when I moved here from Southern California, it changed everything for me. Before, it was the time-honored and accepted truth that you obtained a car if you wanted to date someone. If you didn’t, the women you interacted with after school were limited to family and next-door neighbors.

In a small gear change-up, college at UC Riverside gave me unprecedented opportunity with romantic involvement. After the initial stages of promise, I was forced to reveal that I had no car and therefore date night options consisted of moonlit walks to Del Taco. I later entered a long relationship, and then obtained a van, and noticed a change in our modal behavior: moonlit walks transformed into chauffeured trips to 99 Ranch. The gears of romance had picked up grease.

I was a bicycle user in Riverside as well, but this had no impact on social standing like it does in Davis. You would not be classified by the kind of bike you owned and you probably didn’t even need to lock your bike (Riverside thieves were much more interested in cars and bank accounts).

Davis (and being single) prompted a big gear change, with its bike-ability and co-located university and downtown. Now we could meet with separate vehicles, and bike in one direction towards a good time. I loved women that were into bikes as much as I loved biking itself, as they introduced me to a new sect of people: handy, quick thinking tomboys with oddly located piercings and dispositions. I began a fanatic pursuit of a bike riding femme fatale: a cyclista.

My first girlfriend in Davis was a cool collected Honda Civic owner. We drove to Sacramento and dated for only a short time, mostly because it turned out she was much more into women than she was into me. I was open-minded and had come a long way from my days as a Catholic altar server, but after a few uncouth attempts at making out, we opted for a mutual return to each other’s respective friend ladders.

My second foray into Davis dating involved more non-biking: a graduate student who lived on the far rim of south Davis. After a while I sensed a pattern involving my van and driving across town emerging, I tied several sheets together and climbed down her window. There were countless more failed attempts at finding this cyclista. Where was this bike-riding muse I had been seeking out?

I would eventually find an abundance of cyclistas once I learned where to look:

Stealing fruit from orchards in Winters, carrying them back in multiple 1980s thrift store pursesRolling through downtown tangled in a flowing dress, frequenting coffee shops with their own mugs.Ducking in and out of every radical group on campus and quickly returning to their current text book and their semi-reserved spot in the Davis arboretumAvoiding men at all costs.

The first cyclista to pay me attention led me directly to the Bike Collective. There is no reason to lie! Almost every good thing young men do is motivated by romance in some regard. I became vegetarian 10 years ago, sang Christmas carols at convalescent homes and even once went to an Anime convention for various romantic pursuits. I didn’t know at the time how much I’d like helping people fix their bikes.

Oh, how I would pursue! This woman often left me placed miles from Davis with punctured tires and a deflated mien. She was wild and complicated, uncompromising and independent. She forced me to upgrade from my comfy low rider to an expensive road bike. Soon, I was playing catch up on a race across town, to the Stevenson Bridge, or to the Causeway, and to every single farmer’s market. I needed to get a faster bike, (and perhaps better lungs?) as I was clearly getting outclassed and led down a spiral of bike maintenance.

After a few years in Davis, and a few more failed attempts, I decided to take a break from the chase. However, this never stops me from feeling in awe of a new cyclista entering Davis and taking flight. Women and men alike are all captivated by these dervishes, and chase in vain in their wake. I may have learned my lesson, but everyone has to learn to get out of their way…

CHRISTOPHER SALAM is a minister at the Davis Bicycle Collective and can be reached at mrsalam@ucdavis.edu. If you are interested in DIY bicycle repair visit the DBC at its Bike Forth location, on L Street and 4th. (M) 1-5pm, (T-R) 4-8pm & Saturday 12-6pm.

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